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Wilms’ Tumor Treatment in New Jersey

A Wilms’ tumor, also known as nephroblastoma, is the most common type of kidney cancer found in children.

As an unborn baby’s kidneys develop, some of the cells are designated to either become glomeruli or nephrons. Glomeruli are clusters of blood vessels that filter water, salt and waste from the blood. Nephrons become the tubes through which the water, salt and waste pass.

Occasionally, these early cells do not develop into either glomeruli or nephrons as they should, and instead, remain as clusters of immature cells that form in the kidneys. Generally, the cells mature by the time the child is 3 or 4 years of age, however, some remain as immature cells and form a mass that grows in size. This mass is known as a Wilms' tumor. This type of tumor is classified as malignant, another term for cancerous.

Most Wilms' tumors are unilateral, meaning that they only impact one kidney.

In some cases, children have more than one tumor in the same kidney, and it is possible to develop tumors in both kidneys.

The majority of Wilms' tumors are not detected until they have spread to other parts of the body.

Although the exact cause of Wilms' tumors is not known, they usually result from kidney cell mutations that occur sometime after birth.

Learn more about Wilms’ tumors and their causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Why Choose Us for Wilms’ Tumor Care

State-of-the-Art Kidney Cancer Treatment in New Jersey

RWJBarnabas Health, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, meets the highest standards in urologic cancer and kidney cancer research, treatment, prevention and education. We offer access to the full spectrum of therapeutic procedures and advanced urologic cancer and kidney cancer treatment options including clinical trials, radiation therapy techniques and complex surgical procedures.

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New Jersey’s Largest Network of Cancer Specialists

Our integrated care model for urologic cancer treatment includes the state’s largest network of cancer specialists, working together to ensure the greatest patient outcomes.

To treat Wilms’ tumor, your team of specialists includes:

  • Highly trained pediatric medical oncologists and radiation oncologists
  • Urologic cancer surgeons
  • Pediatric hematologists/oncologists
  • Advanced practice nurses and certified technicians with enhanced credentials in cancer specialty care
  • Nurse navigators
  • Nutrition experts
  • Oncology support professionals

Oncology Nurse Navigators to Guide You

Our oncology nurse navigators help patients and their families through their urologic cancer and kidney cancer journeys, from securing initial appointments to coordinating follow-up visits related to treatments and procedures, all the way through aspects of survivorship. Oncology nurse navigators also can refer you to social workers or financial counselors for matters about health insurance, financial concerns and other challenges.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best gastrointestinal cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

What Are the Types of Wilms' Tumors?

There are two types of Wilms' tumors:

  • Favorable histology. These account for nine out of 10 Wilms' tumors, and typically have a good prognosis. They show no signs of anaplasia, a term that refers to structural and functional irregularities in the cells that make up the tumor.
  • Unfavorable histology. These are also known as anaplastic Wilms’ tumors that are characterized by their large and distorted cell nuclei. The nuclei are where the cell’s DNA, or genetic instructions come from. Wilms’ tumors with the presence of anaplasia throughout the tumor’s cells are considered more difficult to treat.

Wilms' Tumor Symptoms

Wilms' tumor symptoms vary from patient to patient, and some children may not show any clear signs or symptoms of the condition. Common Wilms' tumor symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain and/or abdominal swelling
  • An abdominal mass that can be felt
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

If you or your child observe any of the Wilms' tumor symptoms or signs noted above, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a consultation and screening.

Learn more about pediatric cancer and blood disorder treatment at RWJBarnabas Health.

Wilms' Tumor Screening and Diagnosis

When you meet with your pediatrician, share your child’s complete medical history as well as any potential Wilms' tumor symptoms with the doctor, who will perform a physical examination. Your physician may also order additional screening tests to make a Wilms' tumor diagnosis.

  • Laboratory tests. Blood and urine tests help evaluate the function of your kidneys and liver and inform your doctor of any abnormal levels of substances.
  • Ultrasound. Using high-frequency waves, this imaging test creates pictures of your kidneys and other internal organs, allowing your doctors to see any signs of a Wilms' tumor or other masses.
  • Computerized tomography (CT or CAT scan). Using X-rays and computerized technology, this imaging test produces detailed images of the internal structures in the body. Capable of producing cross-sectional “slices,” it can show signs of masses, tumors, Wilms' tumors and other abnormalities on or near the kidneys.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).Using radio waves and powerful magnets, an MRI produces highly-detailed images of the internal structures of the body, allowing your doctor to pinpoint areas that may show signs of a Wilms' tumor or other mass.
  • Biopsy. Often performed through the aid of an imaging method, a biopsy involves removing a small sample of tissue with a needle while the patient is under sedation. It is then submitted to a laboratory and examined under a microscope to scan for irregularities in order to make a Wilms' tumor or another diagnosis.

How Are Wilms' Tumors Staged?

Once a positive Wilms' tumor diagnosis has been made, your oncologist will assign a stage for the cancer, which will help inform the best path of Wilms' tumor treatment.

Stages range from stage I, in which the tumor is localized to only one kidney and can be completely removed with surgery, to stage V, in which cancer has spread to other organs and is found in both kidneys at the same time.

Wilms' Tumor Treatment

A Wilms' tumor is classified as a childhood kidney cancer and as such, is treated differently than adult kidney cancers.

Pediatric hematologists/oncologists are doctors who specialize in pediatric cancers and blood disorders and can direct the most appropriate course of treatment.

The Wilms' tumor treatment course will depend on a few factors including the stage of the Wilms' tumor and the child’s overall health.

Meet Our Pediatric Hematologists/Oncologists


Surgery refers to the medical procedure to remove the tumor and tissues affected by cancer. Depending on the stage of the Wilms' tumor, this may involve removing either part or all of the kidney as well as the surrounding tissue and lymph nodes, if necessary. If the Wilms' tumor has not spread beyond the kidney, it may be the only course of treatment required. Common kidney cancer surgery options include:

  • Laparoscopic surgery. This minimally invasive surgery is performed using keyhole incisions and robotic tools to remove the Wilms' tumor. It is an option for those in the first stage of the disease.
  • Partial nephrectomy. This form of surgery involves the partial removal of the kidney, which is an option during earlier stages of Wilms' tumor kidney cancer. The kidney can retain function following this procedure.
  • Radical nephrectomy. This form of surgery for Wilms' tumor involves the total removal of the tumor, entire kidney, and nearby tissue and lymph nodes, if affected. It leaves the remaining kidney to do the work of both kidneys.

Nonsurgical Wilms' Tumor Treatments

  • Chemotherapy. Administered by a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, this Wilms' tumor treatment uses one or more medicines to kill cancer cells or shrink tumors. Often administered in cycles, chemotherapy is regarded as very effective against this type of cancer.
  • Radiation therapy. A radiation oncologist uses this form of Wilms' tumor treatment with the help of high energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells. Often performed in conjunction with other therapies, it is seldom sufficient in eradicating the cancer alone. It is most often used in later stages, when the Wilms' tumor has spread to other organs, the bones or the brain. It is also helpful in treating symptoms such as pain and swelling of the brain.

Wilms' Tumor Statistics

Fortunately, Wilms' tumor is considered a highly-treatable form of cancer. Survival rates depend on a variety of factors including the stage of cancer, the path of Wilms' tumor treatment, and the overall health of the patient.

Leading-Edge Wilms' Tumor Treatment in New Jersey

At RWJBarnabas Health, we understand that having a cancer diagnosis in the family is very difficult, and any course of Wilms' tumor treatment is a highly personal and individualized one.

Having a meaningful dialogue with your pediatrician, including discussing your staging, risk factors and possible side effects associated with treatment is key.

As the largest health system in New Jersey, patients who trust us with their Wilms' tumor treatment will receive care from our team of multidisciplinary pediatric oncologists, surgeons, urologists, pathologists, advanced practice nurses, oncology nurse navigators and oncology support professionals who oversee your journey with expertise and compassion.

Maintaining an open dialogue with your cancer care team enables us to provide you with Wilms' tumor treatment options that work for you and your family.

Access to the Latest Technologies

With access to the latest imaging technologies, we make early Wilms' tumor detection possible.

Equipped with advanced treatment technologies, we offer the latest options to manage our patients’ Wilms' tumor symptoms and provide treatments through radiation, chemotherapy, nonsurgical tumor treatments and other therapies that deliver the best patient outcomes.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best pediatric cancer specialists call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
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201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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200 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
The Unterberg Children's Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center
300 2nd Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 923-7250

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