If Wilms tumour spreads

Cancer cells can spread from the kidney to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.

Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps the healthcare team plan your child’s treatment and future care. If Wilms tumour spreads, it most commonly spreads to:

  • lymph nodes close to the kidneys
  • the renal sinus (the cavity of the kidney containing the renal pelvis and renal vessels)
  • the ureter
  • a large vein in the abdomen leading to the heart (called the inferior vena cava)
  • the lungs
  • the liver

Very rarely, Wilms tumour can spread to the bone, bone marrow or brain. Doctors usually look at these areas only if the child has symptoms to suggest the tumour has spread to them.

In about 5% of children the other kidney may also develop a tumour. Tumours may occur at the same time or develop in the opposite kidney over many years. This situation is more common in patients who have a cancer predisposition syndrome such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome or WAGR syndrome.

Expert review and references

  • Children's Hospital Boston . Wilms tumor. Children's Hospital Boston - My Child Has.... Boston, MA: Children's Hospital Boston; 2007.
  • Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center .
  • Dome, J.S., Perlman, E.J, et al . Renal tumors. Pizzo, P. A. & Poplack, D. G. (Eds.). Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006: 30: 905-932.
  • Drigan, R. and Androkites, A. . Wilms Tumor. Baggott, C. R., Kelly, K. P., Fochtman, D. et al. Nursing Care of Children and Adolescents with Cancer. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders Company; 2002: 26: pp.568-574.
  • Duffey-Lind, E . Tumours of the kidney. Kline, N. E. (Ed.). Essentials of Pediatric Oncology Nursing: A Core Curriculum. 2nd ed. Association of Pediatric Oncology Nurses; 2004: 2.10:46-49.
  • Fernandez CV, Geller JI, Ehrlich PF et al . Renal Tumors. Pizzo PA & Poplack DG (eds.). Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer; 2016: 29:753-768.
  • Wilms tumor. Janes-Hodder, H. & Keene, N. Childhood Cancer - A Parent's Guide to Solid Tumor Cancers. 2nd ed. O'Reilly; 2002: 9:137-149.
  • National Cancer Institute. Wilms Tumor and Other Childhood Kidney Tumors Treatment (PDQ®) Patient Version. 2017.
  • National Cancer Institute. Wilms Tumor and Other Childhood Kidney Tumors Treatment (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. 2017.