The good news is that most cases of Wilms’ tumor respond to treatment. Your doctor will discuss treatment options in the context of your child’s diagnosis and discuss the benefits and risks of each.
Surgery can be used to confirm the diagnosis or treat the condition. Surgery may involve removing part of the affected kidney, removing the kidney and surrounding tissue, or removing all or part of both kidneys. Nephrectomy is the medical term for kidney removal. In surgery, part of the tumor is sent to the lab to determine whether it is cancerous and, if so, what type of cancer cells are in the tumor.
Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink the tumor or to treat the disease if it has spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy is given through a catheter that is inserted through a vein or larger blood vessel. Your child’s health care team will monitor for side effects, including hair loss, nausea and vomiting, mouth sores, and loss of appetite.
Radiation therapy uses focused, high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Your child’s oncologist may prescribe it in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy. Radiation can be performed externally by machine or internally into the tumor(s) with needles, wires or catheters. Patients usually receive radiation therapy five days a week for several weeks. Side effects include skin irritation, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, and hair loss.
Complementary Therapies for Wilms’ Tumor
Complementary therapies can help children with Wilms tumor manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Of which:
Ginger tea for nausea
Guided images to help with stress and pain
Massage therapy and relaxation
Meditation to reduce stress
Play and art therapy
Caregiver tips for Wilms’ tumor
Caring for a child with cancer is stressful and can lead to physical and emotional burnout. It can help to reach out to family and friends who can provide respite care during times when you need a break. Finding a support group, online or in person, can help you talk to other parents who share the same caring responsibilities and challenges as you. Talking to a professional counselor or therapist can also support you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it.