Wilms Tumor - Childhood: Risk Factors

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing this type of tumor. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a tumor. Although risk factors often influence the development of Wilms tumor, most do not directly cause it. Some children with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do.

Most often, Wilms tumor is not inherited, but there can be genetic reasons for the tumor’s development.

  • Children may have a mutated (changed), damaged, or missing gene; such a change can also cause other birth defects. About 15% of children with Wilms tumor also have other health problems at the time of their birth.
  • Children with WAGR syndrome, a condition that causes a number of birth defects, have a 33% chance of developing Wilms tumor. WAGR stands for Wilms tumor, aniridia (no iris in the eye), genitourinary abnormalities (changes to the reproductive and urinary organs) or gonadoblastoma (a rare tumor of the reproductive organs), and mental retardation.
  • Children with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, a condition that causes enlarged internal organs and limbs, have a higher risk of developing Wilms tumor, kidney cysts, and tumors of the liver (hepatoblastoma), pancreas, and adrenal glands.
  • Boys with Deny-Drash syndrome, a condition in which the male sex organs do not develop correctly, have a higher risk of developing Wilms tumor.
  • A small number of children with Wilms tumor have a relative in their family with the disease.

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