Wilms Tumor - Childhood: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2015

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of tumor and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about Wilms tumor, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your child’s doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options that are best for your family.

  • Bilateral Wilms tumors. The Children’s Oncology Group is studying how to treat bilateral Wilms tumors while preserving as much kidney function as possible.

  • Tumor markers. A tumor marker, also called a biomarker, is a substance found in a person's blood, urine, or body tissue that indicates a possible disease. Researchers have found that Wilms tumors with a favorable histology and changes in chromosome 1q, also called WT-1, are more likely to come back after treatment. In the future, this may be used to identify patients who are at an increased risk for recurrence.

  • Tumor genetics. Another Wilms tumor gene has been identified on the X chromosome, called WTX. This gene plays a role in normal kidney development, but it is not active in approximately one-third of children with Wilms tumor. Studies on the importance of this gene are ongoing.

  • Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy cells.

    The Children's Oncology Group is currently conducting a phase II study of an antibody-drug conjugate called IMGN901 (lorvotuzumab mertansine) for the treatment of recurrent or refractory Wilms tumors. This treatment is designed to deliver the drug directly to the cancer cells. Very early studies have shown promising results.

  • New treatment approaches for tumors that have spread to the lungs. Researchers are trying to figure out if a favorable histology Wilms tumor that has spread to the lungs should be treated with radiation therapy if the lung tumors go away after six weeks of chemotherapy. Researchers are also using a different chemotherapy, as well as radiation therapy to the lungs, to treat lung tumors that do not go away after six weeks.

  • New treatment methods. Doctors are looking at the effect of using only surgery as a treatment for patients with a small stage I tumor. After surgery, the patients are watched closely for a recurrence. 

  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current Wilms tumor treatments in order to improve children’s comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding Wilms tumor, explore these related items that will take you outside of this guide:

  • To find clinical trials specific to your diagnosis, talk with your child’s doctor or search online clinical trial databases now.

  • Review research announced at the 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting.

  • Visit ASCO’s CancerProgress.Net website to learn more about the historical pace of research for childhood cancer, called pediatric cancer on this website. Please note this link takes you to a separate ASCO website.

  • Visit the website of the Conquer Cancer Foundation to find out how to help support research for every cancer type. Please note this link takes you to a separate ASCO website. 

The next section in this guide is Coping with Side Effects, and it offers some guidance on how to cope with the physical, emotional, and social changes that a tumor and its treatment can bring. Or, use the menu on the side of your screen to choose another section to continue reading this guide.