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Is Wilms Tumor A Cancer & What Does It Feel Like?

Wilms tumor is one of the most common childhood cancers that affect the kidneys. Most kids who have been diagnosed with cancer have been treated and recovered fully from the ailment. Wilms tumor often develops in only one kidney, but in some cases, both kidneys can be affected. It is believed that cancer starts growing as early as when a baby is a fetus. The cells that become cancerous, resulting in Wilms tumor are meant to mature into kidneys, but along the way, the process goes wrong, and the cells do not develop as they should. For most children, they do not exhibit any early signs of cancer. As a matter of fact, they will play and behave like other normal kids. Regardless, if your child has a Wilms tumor, they may have swelling (lump) on their belly.[1]

Is Wilms Tumor A Cancer?

Is Wilms Tumor A Cancer

Yes. Wilms tumor is a type of kidney cancer, also known as nephroblastoma. The cancerous growth of the Wilms tumor can grow very large before any symptoms appear and a diagnosis made. The average weight of the tumor at diagnosis is usually 1 pound, which is approximately 0.45kgs. Despite the lack of early symptoms of Wilms tumor, most children will likely have an abdominal swelling or rather mass, which you can feel. In addition to that, they may experience abdominal pain. So, it is important that you’re keen on your baby’s belly appearance and whether they feel pain.[2]

How Does A Wilms Tumor Feel Like?

As earlier mentioned, you can feel a Wilms tumor on your child from their belly surface. You won’t touch, but that does not mean you cannot tell how the mass feels. Normally, there will be swelling on the belly, and it will feel hard, either on one side or both, depending on whether just one kidney is affected or both. Wilms tumor is easily treatable because even at late diagnosis, it has not metastasized into other areas. Nephroblastoma can either be favorable or anaplastic, depending on the appearance under a microscope.

Favorable Wilms tumor does not appear abnormal but is also neither normal. On the other hand, anaplastic Wilms tumor is variant, and some parts of the mass can appear large and distorted. This appearance is what is referred to as anaplasia, and it can either be focal to certain parts of the tumor or be spread out through the tumor.[3]

Wilms tumor is one of the many solid forms of cancer. That is to mean that cells (which were meant to mature into kidneys) have clustered together forming a mass. The mass, in turn, inhibits the healthy kidney cells from function in the right way.[4]

Diagnosis Of Wilms Tumor

The best way to diagnosing Wilms tumor is through a thorough testing process of various procedures to clearly establish the presence of the tumor. First things first, the doctor will want to know the symptoms your child has been exhibiting and for how long. Additionally, he/she will want to know the cancer history in your family. Next comes the testing process, starting with a blood test to determine the functionality of the kidneys as well as the liver, red and white blood cells and blood clotting. An abdomen ultrasound is of the essence in the diagnosis of Wilms tumor, to identify the presence of the tumor. After that, if the tumor is there, a biopsy will be done to determine the nature of the tumor. To determine whether the tumor has spread to nearby organs such as the lungs. For a clear picture of the tumor, an MRI and CT scan will be done. [5]


In finality, Wilms tumor is cancer, that affects the kidneys. It is most common in children between the ages of 3 and 4. Regardless, older children can develop the cancer, but it is a rare occurrence. Wilms tumor is a solid tumor, which you can feel, through your child’s belly once it has grown very large but basically, it is a swelling that is hard and firm to the touch.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 12, 2021

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