Wilms’ tumour, also known as nephroblastoma, is a rare type of cancer found in children between the age of 6 and 15. Cancerous tumours originating in kidney cells may metastasize to other body tissues. The usual site of metastization is the lungs. However, lesions may also develop in the brain, liver, or bones. Nearly 5% of all children who develop Wilms’ tumour have both the kidneys involved.
What are the common causes of Wilms’ tumour?
The exact causes of Wilms’ tumour have not been found yet. Research has shown no clear connection between the disease and environmental factors.
It is uncommon for Wilms’ tumour to run in the family. Only in 1% or 2% of cases there is a family history of this illness. In most cases, the tumours develop by chance and are the outcome of genetic mutations affecting the growth of cells in your kidney. Some children may be born with genetic mutations that put them at risk of cancer, or it could arise after birth.
A small percentage of kids with certain genetic disorders may be prone to Wilms’ tumour. These include –
WAGR Syndrome, Denys-Drash Syndrome and Frasier Syndrome have been linked with WT1 gene mutations. Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, on the other hand, is linked to changes in the WT2 gene – it is a growth disorder, which causes organs and the body to become enlarged.
Risk Factors Associated with Wilms’ Tumour
Certain defects present at birth may also be a cause of Wilms’ tumour in children. Examples include –
The symptoms of Wilms’ tumour vary depending on the causes. The disease can be diagnosed with the help of CT scan, MRI, abdominal ultrasound, urine/blood test, and biopsy.
Standard treatment for the condition includes medication, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery – depending on the stage and severity of cancer.