Wilms Tumor - Childhood: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 07/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done to learn more about Wilms tumors and how to treat them. Use the menu to see other pages.

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

  • Bilateral Wilms tumors. The Children’s Oncology Group is studying how to best treat bilateral Wilms tumors (see Introduction) 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 at a level that indicates a possible disease. Researchers have found that Wilms tumors with a favorable histology and changes in chromosome 1q are more likely to come back after treatment. In the future, biomarkers such as chromosome 1p, 11p, and 16q may be used to determine whether a patient needs chemotherapy and, if so, whether more intensive chemotherapy may be needed.

  • 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 about one-third of children with a 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.

  • New treatment approaches for tumors that have spread to the lungs. Researchers are trying to figure out if a child with Wilms tumor with a favorable histology that has spread to the lungs still needs to get radiation therapy to the lungs if the lung tumors have gone away after 6 weeks of chemotherapy. If the lung tumors have not gone away in addition to radiation therapy, different chemotherapy may be used to help get rid of these tumors.

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

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

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

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

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance on how to cope with the physical, emotional, social, and financial changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.