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What is Kidney Cancer in Children?

Kidney (renal) tumors are very rare in children. Still, the three most common renal tumors found in children are:

  • Wilms' tumor (about 6 to 7 of every 100 childhood cancers in the U.S.)
  • Congenital Mesoblastic Nephroma (mostly found during the first 3 months of life)
  • Renal Cell Cancer in the renal tubules (mostly found in older children)

Fortunately, renal tumors found in children are often very treatable and curable.

What are the Types of Kidney Cancer in Children?

Male Urinary Tract
Male urinary tract
Medical Illustration Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved

Female Urinary Tract
Female urinary tract
Medical Illustration Copyright © 2015 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved

Wilms' Tumor (also called nephroblastoma)

This is the most common form of kidney cancer in children, affecting 450 to 500 kids per year. Wilms' tumor makes-up about 6 to 7 of every 100 childhood cancer cases in the U.S. It occurs a little more often in girls, and is most often found below the age of 5 years.

Renal Cell Cancer (RCC) (also called renal adenocarcinoma or hypernephroma)

This cancer causes changes in the cells of the renal tubules. RCC is more common than Wilms' tumor after the age of 10 years. But overall, it is less common than Wilms' tumor. This cancer spreads easily, most often to the lungs and other organs. About 1/3 of cases are found after the cancer has spread.

Congenital Mesoblastic Nephroma

This cancer is mostly found during the first 3 months of life. There are some children who have an unusual type that can spread outside the kidney. This is more common if the disease is found after the age of 3 months. The good news is that surgical removal of the affected kidney provides an excellent outcome. Radiation and/or chemotherapy are not needed in most infants after complete removal of the tumor.

What can be Expected under Normal Conditions?

Most people have 2 kidneys. The kidneys are found toward the lower back, with one on either side. The kidneys make urine, which drains through thin tubes (called ureters) into the bladder.

The main work of the kidney is to clean our blood and remove waste (urine). The kidney has other vital roles as well. It serves as our body's filter to control electrolytes, fluid balance, blood pressure and pH balance.

The kidneys are strong organs. In most cases, a small amount of damage won't cause many problems. But, major damage may need long-term treatment, like dialysis.