Wilms tumour

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Treatments for Wilms tumour

If your child has Wilms tumour, the healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for your child. It will be based on your child’s health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for Wilms tumour, the healthcare team will consider:

  • the type of Wilms tumour (favourable or anaplastic histology)
  • the stage of Wilms tumour
  • your child’s age
  • your child’s overall health
  • chromosome changes

There are two major approaches to treatment of Wilms tumour. In North America, most children are treated according to the National Wilms Tumor Study (NWTS) and Children’s Oncology Group (COG) protocols. This is the approach used in Canada. In Europe and other parts of the world, most children are treated according to the International Society of Pediatric Oncology (SIOP) protocols. The main difference in these protocols is that the NWTS and COG usually recommend removal or biopsy of the kidney tumour first, while the SIOP usually recommends chemotherapy first based on imaging.

Your child may be offered a combination of the following treatments for Wilms tumour.


Surgery is the main treatment for Wilms tumour. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used along with surgery.

Radical nephrectomy is the most common surgery used and removes the entire kidney.

Partial nephrectomy is sometimes used. It removes the tumour along with a margin of healthy tissue around it. This is not usually done for Wilms tumour.


Chemotherapy is often used to treat Wilms tumour. Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. It may be used before or after surgery.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy may be used to treat more advanced Wilms tumour. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It may be used before or after surgery.

Follow-up care

Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Your child will need to have regular follow-up visits. These visits allow your child’s healthcare team to monitor your child’s progress and recovery from treatment.

Clinical trials

Children with cancer may be treated in a clinical trial. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

Questions to ask about treatment

To make the decisions that are right for your child, ask the healthcare team questions about treatment.