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Early Detection, Testing, and Diagnosis for Wilms Tumors

While there is a screening process for Wilms tumors, it is not recommended for the general population, since this cancer is relatively rare. Children with inherited syndromes and gene changes that increase susceptibility to Wilms tumors are recommended to undergo ultrasounds every 3-4 months until they reach the age of 7. The doctor will conduct a full physical exam and check for abdominal tumors, which often indicate the presence of a Wilms tumor. They will also need the child's medical and family history. This is important especially if any family member was previously diagnosed with Wilms Tumor, or suffers from inherited abnormalities that increase the risk of developing the disease.

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Imaging Tests for Wilms Tumors

Imaging tests use radio waves, X-rays, or magnetic fields to generate pictures of the inside of the body, specifically, the kidney, to detect Wilms tumors. They can also be used to map out possible spread and plan for treatment.


An ultrasound is the initial test used to spot abdominal tumors. It uses sound waves to generate a clear view of the kidneys and other abdominal organs. Additionally, ultrasound can reveal if the tumor is extending into the main veins exiting the kidney. This can aid in surgical planning if necessary.

Computed Tomography (CT) Scan

A CT scan uses X-rays to create detailed cross-sectional images of your child's internal body parts, including the kidneys. This is one of the most valuable tests for detecting a tumor within the kidney and determining whether the cancer has spread to nearby veins or organs beyond it, such as the lungs. During the scan, your child will need to lie very still on a table. Younger children may be given medication to help them remain calm or even sleep during the test to ensure clear images.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan

An MRI scan produces detailed images using radio waves and strong magnets instead of X-rays, eliminating radiation exposure. This test may be performed if the doctor requires highly detailed images of the kidney or surrounding areas. An example scenario is when there’s a possibility that a kidney tumor has reached a major vein (the inferior vena cava) in the abdomen. An MRI may also be used to check for potential cancer spread to the brain or spinal cord if doctors are concerned about metastasis to these areas.

Chest X-ray

Chest X-rays may be performed to check for any spread of Wilms tumor to the lungs. It also allows to establish a baseline view of the organ for comparison with future X-rays. However, this test may not be necessary if a CT scan of the chest is performed.

Laboratory Tests

Urine and blood samples will be taken and analyzed in the laboratory for signs of kidney problems. The laboratory technician will also look for catecholamines. This indicates the presence of neuroblastoma, which is a type of cancer in the adrenal gland.

Kidney Biopsy

Imaging tests are sufficient to determine the presence of Wilms tumors in most cases. However, definitive diagnosis requires a biopsy. This involves taking small tissue samples and analyzing them in the laboratory under a microscope or with other tests. Laboratory testing helps determine if the tumor is favorable or anaplastic. In some instances, a biopsy may be performed as a separate procedure before surgery to obtain a tumor sample. This usually happens if the diagnosis is less certain or if there are doubts about the ability to completely remove the tumor.

If you or a loved one have suffered from a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis for your child's Wilms tumors or from negligence during their treatment that caused them more harm, contact us at 833-PORTER9, or e-mail us at info@porterlawteam.com to discuss the details of our experience representing other clients and the results we were able to obtain in the past for clients who are suffering as you are. In many ways, our results speak for themselves, and we will stand ready to help you and your family in your time of greatest need.

Last Updated on April 4, 2024 by Michael S. Porter
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