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Can You Die From Wilms Tumor & Can It Spread?

Every individual has two kidneys located over his/her waist i.e. on both sides of the spinal cord. Kidneys of a person are responsible to filter out impurities from the blood, excess salts and minerals, along with extra water from the body.

Even kidneys produce certain hormones to control the production of red blood corpuscles, the blood pressure, and various other body functions. When kidneys develop in an unborn baby, a few of the early cells become glomeruli i.e. blood vessels’ balls to filter salt, water, and waste products from the blood. Other cells become nephrons i.e. tubes to pass the waste products, excess water, and salt.

Now, if glomeruli fail to develop, early cells form clusters of immature cells at the time of baby’s birth. These cells often mature when a child becomes 3 years or 4 years old. However, a few of them grow without control and thereby; form a huge mass consists of immature cells. Doctors refer to the mass as Wilms tumor and it is a common form of kidney cancer takes place in children. Wilms tumor may take place in a single kidney or may develop in both kidneys simultaneously.

Can You Die From Wilms Tumor & Can It Spread?

Can You Die From Wilms Tumor?

A majority of patients with Wilms Tumor remain at elevated risk related to death even within only a few years after they undergo diagnosis with the tumor. Especially, the risk related to death because of second malignant neoplasms is in elevated form for maximum 20 years period after the diagnosis procedure. Furthermore, according to the analysis conducted on 6,185 patients, 819 patients died after the initial five years of their follow-up and later on, statistics reported 159 deaths.(1)

Can Wilms Tumor Spread?

The spread of Wilms tumor in patients depend solely on the tumor’s specific stage, according to which doctors have created the following stage groupings-

  • Stage I. The tumor remains present in only one kidney and one can remove it completely with surgery.
  • Stage II. Cancer remains present not only in the patient’s kidney but also in the blood vessels, soft tissue and fat surrounding the kidney. In some of the cases, cancer may spread to the nearby renal sinus i.e. a specific part of the patient’s kidney, which deals with the entry and exit of fluid and blood. Here, doctors remove the tumor completely by performing surgery.(2)
  • Stage III. Cancer remains present in areas surrounding the affected kidney and doctors fail to remove it completely by performing surgery. Because of this, Wilms tumor, in this case, may spread to surrounding blood vessels and organs or throughout one’s abdomen and surrounding lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are beanlike and tiny organs, which help in fighting infection. Cancer in stage III does not spread outside of one’s abdomen.
  • Stage IV. Cancer spreads to multiple distant organs, like the liver, lungs, brain, and bones. Even in some cases, cancer in stage IV of Wilms tumor spreads to lymph nodes present outside of one’s abdomen.
  • Stage V. Cancer cells are present in both of the kidneys simultaneously, while doctors have to stage Wilms tumor in each kidney in a separate manner.
  • Refractory Tumor. Refractory tumor is the one, which fails to shrink after or during the surgical treatment.
  • Recurrent Tumor. Recurrent tumor often returns after performing surgical treatment. Especially, the tumor relapses in the same area, which it initially started or in any other surrounding body part in patients.(2)


To conclude, we should say that depending on the specific stage of Wilms tumor, cancer may or may not spread to other organs in humans.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 1, 2019

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