Wilms tumour

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If Wilms tumour spreads

Cancer cells can spread from the kidney to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.

Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps the healthcare team plan your child’s treatment and future care. If Wilms tumour spreads, it most commonly spreads to:

  • lymph nodes close to the kidneys
  • the renal sinus (the cavity of the kidney containing the renal pelvis and renal vessels)
  • the ureter
  • a large vein in the abdomen leading to the heart (called the inferior vena cava)
  • the lungs
  • the liver

Very rarely, Wilms tumour can spread to the bone, bone marrow or brain. Doctors usually look at these areas only if the child has symptoms to suggest the tumour has spread to them.

In about 5% of children the other kidney may also develop a tumour. Tumours may occur at the same time or develop in the opposite kidney over many years. This situation is more common in patients who have a cancer predisposition syndrome such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome or WAGR syndrome.

renal pelvis

The centre part of the kidney where urine collects and is funnelled into the ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder).


The tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder.