We understand how overwhelming a diagnosis of Wilms' tumor can be. Right now, you probably have a lot of questions. How dangerous is this condition? What is the very best treatment? What do we do next?
We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions in the following pages, and our experts can explain your child’s condition fully when you meet with us.
What causes Wilms’ tumor?
As a parent, you undoubtedly want to know what may have caused your child’s tumor. Most cases of Wilms’ occur by chance with no family history of the disease or other known cause. The tumors can be the result of genetic mutations that affect cell growth in the kidney. These mutations generally arise after birth, but, in some rare cases, children are born with a genetic predisposition to cancer.
A small percentage of patients with Wilms' tumor have certain rare genetic syndromes such as:
- WAGR syndrome
- Denys-Drash syndrome
- Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome
What are the symptoms of Wilms' tumor?
The most common symptom of Wilms’ tumor is the sudden appearance of a non-tender mass in the abdomen.
Though each child may experience symptoms differently, your child’s symptoms may include the following:
- swelling of the abdomen
- blood in the urine
- abdominal pain
- decreased appetite
- weakness or tiredness
- high blood pressure
Keep in mind that the symptoms of Wilms’ tumor may resemble other, more common conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.
Q: What is the expected outcome after treatment?
A: With prompt and aggressive treatment, most children with Wilms’ tumor are successfully treated with a combination of surgery, and/or chemotherapy and/or radiation, and experience relatively few side effects from treatment.
Q: Where will my child be treated?
A: Children treated through Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center receive outpatient care at the Jimmy Fund Clinic on the third floor of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. If your child needs to be admitted to the hospital, she will stay at Children’s Hospital Boston on the ninth floor of the Berthiaume building.
Q: What services are available to help my child and my family cope?
A: We offer many support services to help you, your child and your family get through this difficult time.
Questions to ask your child’s doctor
After your child is diagnosed with a Wilms’ Tumor, you may feel overwhelmed with information. It can be easy to lose track of the questions that occur to you.
Lots of parents find it helpful to jot down questions as they arise—that way, when you talk to your child’s doctors, you can be sure that all of your concerns are addressed.
If your child is old enough, you may want to suggest that she write down what she wants to ask her health care provider, too.
Some of the questions you may want to ask include:
- Has my child’s tumor spread?
- Can the tumor be treated with surgery?
- How long will my child need to be in the hospital?
- What are the possible short and long-term complications of treatment? How will they be addressed?
- What is the likelihood of cure?
- What happens if the tumor returns?
- What services are available to help my child and my family cope?
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