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Tag Archives: Nephroblastoma

Wilms Tumor Cancer (Nephroblastoma)

Wilms Tumor Cancer (Nephroblastoma) childhoodAlso known as nephroblastoma, Wilms tumor is a type of childhood cancer that begins growing in the kidneys. The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located towards the lower back of the rib cage, with one on each side of the body. The kidneys’ primary responsibility is to filter the blood in order to remove excess water, salt, and waste, secreting these substances as urine. Their secondary function is to ensure that the blood stays healthy by: (1) helping to control blood pressure through the production of the hormone renin; and (2) helping to maintain an appropriate supply of red blood cells through the production of the hormone erythropoietin, which tells the bone marrow to produce additional red blood cells when necessary.

There are more than 10 different types of kidney cancer in children, but Wilms tumor is by far the most common. Wilms tumor comprises about 6-7% of all childhood cancers and about 90% (9 out of 10) of all childhood kidney cancers. There are about 450-500 new cases of Wilms tumor diagnosed each year in the United States, occurring slightly more frequently in girls than in boys. Wilms tumor is most frequently diagnosed in children between the ages of 3 and 4, and is quite uncommon after the age of 6.

In about 95% of diagnoses, Wilms tumor is unilateral, which means that the tumor is confined to only one kidney; however, in about 5-10% of these diagnoses, there are multiple tumors within the same kidney. About 5% of children are diagnosed with bilateral Wilms tumor, which means that there are tumors in both kidneys. Although Wilms tumors are usually not diagnosed until they have grown quite large—the most common symptom is a hard lump or swelling on the abdomen—most Wilms tumors are diagnosed before they have metastasized (spread) to other organs or areas of the body.

Types of Wilms Tumors and Four-Year Survival Rates Based on Type

Once Wilms tumor has been diagnosed, the cancerous cells are examined under a microscope to determine their histology. This will help determine the severity of the disease as well as the appropriate course of treatment. Wilms tumors are classified as two different types depending on their histology:

  • Favorable: more than 9 out of every 10 case of Wilms tumor has a favorable histology, meaning the tumor shows no signs of anaplasia (enlarged, distorted cell nuclei).
  • Unfavorable: also called anaplastic Wilms tumor. When a Wilms tumor is unfavorable, the appearance of the cancerous cells varies widely, with most cells showing very large and distorted nuclei, or anaplasia. The more anaplasia the tumor shows, the more difficult it is to treat effectively.

Statistics for Wilms tumor are given as four-year survival rates, or the percentage of children who live at least four years after their initial diagnosis with Wilms tumor. It is important to note that these statistics are averages only; they do not indicate the prognosis for any particular child. Your child’s prognosis depends on many factors, including your child’s overall health, the course of treatment, and the tumor’s response to that treatment. If your child has been diagnosed with Wilms tumor, it is important that you speak with your oncology team about the details of your child’s diagnosis.

Statistics for four-year survival rates for Wilms tumor are based on both the histology and stage of the tumor, or how much the tumor has grown. The four-year survival rates for Wilms tumor with a favorable histology range from 99% for Stage 1 tumors to about 87% for Stage V tumors. However, the four-year survival rates decline significantly for anaplastic Wilms tumors: about 83% for Stage 1 and declining precipitously to 55% for Stage V.

About American Childhood Cancer Organization

American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, ACCO is the sole U.S. member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer.  And most importantly, ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.

For additional information about childhood cancer or on the ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at www.acco.org , call 855.858.2226 or visit:

Baby Crom’s Cancer Journey

13699939_952087518250211_951032198123412583_nCromwell’s cancer journey began on January 17, 2014 when he suffered a severe stroke that left him paralyzed on the left side of his body. Unsure of what caused the stroke, Cromwell, or “Baby Crom” as his family and supporters affectionately call him, returned home with his family until February 9, when he began urinating blood and blood clots. Rushed to the hospital for an ultrasound, the physicians found a mass in his left kidney. Follow-up scans the next day discovered more bad news: the tumor in the kidney had spread to the lungs. Surgery was scheduled immediately; on February 14, 2014, Baby Crom underwent surgery to remove the tumor, his entire left kidney, and three smaller tumors in the abdomen.

13321808_922669414525355_6675768700301221992_nFour days later, as Baby Crom recovered from surgery, his parents were given the diagnosis: Stage IV Nephroblastoma, also known as Wilms Tumor, a form of kidney cancer diagnosed in about 500 children every year. Cromwell’s parents were devastated; after all, they knew that a diagnosis of “Stage IV” cancer in adults means the cancer has metastasized, or spread, so extensively that successful treatment is extremely difficult. The prognosis in Baby Crom’s case was not so dire, however: the oncology team explained that Stage IV indicated that the tumor had spread beyond the kidney but was still potentially treatable with surgery and chemotherapy. Moreover, Baby Crom’s tumor was considered “favorable”, meaning that it did not show very much anaplasia and would likely respond well to treatment (in tumors with an “unfavorable” histology, the cancer cells’ appearance vary widely and tend to have very large, distorted nuclei; these anaplastic tumors often prove more resistant to treatment).

After surgery, Baby Crom underwent six months of chemotherapy targeting the tumors in his lungs, as well as radiation treatments targeting the area of the left kidney to destroy any remaining cancer cells left behind after surgery. Nine months after his stroke, eight months after his surgery and diagnosis, Baby Crom scans showed “No Evidence of Disease”!

Baby Crom and “The Many Adventures of Cozy the Port-a-Cat”!

13626564_952087414916888_4004278296311372285_nThe “port”, or “port-a-cath” is a standard element of every childhood cancer patient’s story. Chemotherapy is administered directly into the bloodstream, yet because of the intensity and frequency of the treatments, using standard intravenous delivery can be extremely uncomfortable, especially for young children. Instead, doctors surgically implant a “port” into the chest or upper arm that enables them to safely and comfortably deliver medications and draw blood without requiring needle insertion. The ACCO developed “Cozy the Port-a-Cat” to help children understand the port and other medical procedures, alleviating some of the fear and anxiety that often accompany the many medical procedures childhood cancer patients face during and after treatment.

Baby Crom developed a very special relationship with both his Port-a-Cat and, in fact, with his port! Shortly after what his family called his “second chance day”—the second anniversary of his initial surgery—Baby Crom underwent a second surgery to remove the port. Baby Crom, however, was extremely resistant to removing the port. As his mother noted, “His port has become so much a part of Baby Crom’s life that he struggled to part with it. He insisted the port was ‘his’ and he didn’t want the doctors to take it away from him.” So his oncology team respected his wishes; after removing it, they saved it, sterilized it, and returned it to him in the mail!

12592502_893019624157001_9066056604263362996_nToday, Baby Crom and his family continue to cope with late effects from both the stroke and cancer, as well as celebrate the standard milestones of childhood. He no longer requires speech therapy. He continues with physical therapy to regain mobility and strength on the left side of his body, and was recently fitted with a new leg brace to keep up with his rapid growth. Swimming, gymnastics, and even horseback riding with therapy horses have all played a huge role in helping him overcome the physical challenges left behind by the stroke. Unfortunately, he continues to struggle with pulmonary issues, potentially due to asthma and allergies, as well as the effects of the tumors in his lungs. At times, he has struggled with infections; because he now has only one kidney, the heavy use of antibiotics can be problematic. Yet throughout his entire cancer journey, Baby Crom’s family has been inspired by his fighting spirit, by his unwillingness to let anything get in the way of his natural childhood exuberance and joy!

About the American Childhood Cancer Organization

The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, the ACCO is the sole US member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, the ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer.  And most importantly, the ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.

For additional information about childhood cancer or on the ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at www.acco.org , call 855.858.2226 or visit:

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