Symptoms and Diagnosis of Wilms’ Tumors and Other Kidney Tumors in Children

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Wilms’ Tumors and Other Kidney Tumors in Children

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What are the symptoms of a kidney tumor?

Some kidney tumors don’t cause any symptoms. They can be found during a routine exam, when a child’s doctor feels a lump in the belly. When a tumor does cause symptoms, they may include abdominal pain, blood in the urine, and/or high blood pressure.

If your child has symptoms that don’t seem to be getting better, contact your pediatrician.

How is Wilms’ tumor diagnosed?

If your child’s doctor suspects Wilms’ tumor or another kidney tumor, your child will first have imaging tests — such as an ultrasound, chest x-ray, CT scan, or MRI — to see if there is a mass, and if so, whether it has spread to the nearby lymph nodes and/or lungs. In rare situations, additional imaging of other areas of the body, such as the bones or brain will be recommended.

Our surgeons can usually remove the entire kidney that contains the tumor. MSK Kids pathologists (doctors who specialize in diagnosing disease) study the tumor tissue under a microscope and determine whether or not it is cancer, and if so, what type. If the tumor is too large to be fully removed or present in both kidneys, or if there is concern a new tumor could develop in the other kidney, we recommend chemotherapy before surgery to shrink the tumor. If your child has tumors in both kidneys, we evaluate and treat each one separately.