Seattle Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center has treated hundreds of children with kidney tumors, with excellent results.
The most common treatments are surgery and chemotherapy. Your child’s doctor and healthcare team will partner with you in making the best choice of care. We have special expertise in developing a treatment plan that matches your child’s needs.
Most children with Wilms tumor do well with treatment. About 90% of children with the most common form of Wilms tumor are free of cancer five years after treatment, which means we consider them cured.
Kidney Tumor Treatment Options
Surgery is often the first treatment a child has for a kidney tumor. Our general and thoracic surgery team has performed hundreds of surgeries to remove kidney tumors from children.
Wilms tumors are usually in only one kidney. Doctors usually remove the kidney with the Wilms tumor. The surgeon will usually remove the ureter (the tube from the kidney to the bladder) and the fat around the kidney.
Doctors also routinely remove lymph nodes near the kidney. Lymph vessels pick up a fluid called lymph from around the body, filter it through lymph nodes, and return it to the bloodstream. It is important to remove these nodes to find out how far the cancer may have spread. During kidney tumor surgery, doctors may check other sites for cancer, such as the liver and the other kidney. They may remove all tissue that appears to have cancer.
Sometimes, they also remove nearby structures like the adrenal gland (which sits on top of the kidney).
In some cases, doctors cannot remove the whole tumor. It may be too large, or the cancer cells may have spread to nearby tissue. Instead, doctors take a small sample of tumor cells for a biopsy. Chemotherapy may be recommended to shrink the tumor before removing it.
Chemotherapy means giving your child medicines that kill cancer cells.
Your child’s doctors may suggest chemotherapy to shrink the kidney tumor or kill cancer cells that might be elsewhere in your child’s body. Chemotherapy is given through a child’s veins.
For the most common type of Wilms tumor, doctors use 2 or 3 chemotherapy medicines.
Our patients receive chemotherapy at our main campus in Seattle. Most children get chemotherapy as outpatients. That means they don’t have to stay the night in the hospital.
Read about chemotherapy and its side effects.
Radiation uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. A machine sends a dose of radiation into the body. Doctors aim the radiation at the place where they know or suspect there is cancer. Doctors most often use this for patients with stage 3 or stage 4 Wilms tumor.
Most often, doctors give radiation for kidney tumors after surgery and before chemotherapy.
Our patients receive radiation therapy through UW Medicine.
Read about radiation and its side effects.
Studying New Treatments for Wilms Tumor and Other Kidney Tumors
We are creating and studying better treatments for kidney tumors. Our goal is to cure more children and reduce long-term side effects.
We participate in many clinical trials and studies that explore whether new treatments or techniques work better than current treatments. This means we may be able to give new medicines to patients whose cancer does not respond to treatment or comes back after treatment. Some patients who participate in these studies get the newest treatments before they are widely available.
Some of our kidney tumor research takes place through the Children’s Oncology Group (COG). COG is an international organization that aims to learn more about how cancer works and find better treatments. Your child’s doctor will talk to you about any new treatment that might help your child.
We also take part in COG studies that look at the genetics of Wilms tumor and the long-term outcomes for children who have had successful treatment.
Read more about research at Seattle Children’s.
To learn more about kidney tumor diagnosis and treatment at Seattle Children’s, call our Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at 206-987-2106.