Treatment and care of children with cancer is usually provided by a team of health professionals called a multidisciplinary team. Members of this team are specialists in children’s cancers – they understand the differences between children’s cancer and adult cancer, and each team member brings different skills in managing care to meet the needs of both you and your child.
The team will be led by a childhood cancer specialist (paediatric oncologist). Other members of the team depend on the age of your child and their type of disease, and may change over time as your child’s needs change. A list of team members who might make up the multidisciplinary team can be found in The treatment team.
Treatment for kidney tumours depends on the age of your child, the stage of the disease, the biological features of the cancer and other factors identified during diagnosis. Treatment will be tailored to your child’s particular situation, and may involve one or more of the following (see How is cancer treated page for more detail).
Your child is likely to have surgery to remove the tumour, and this is usually done by removing all or part of the affected kidney. Your child might have surgery to insert a venous access device, which is a tube that allows chemotherapy to be delivered directly into a blood vessel.
Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer medicines to destroy cancer cells. It is often given as a combination of medicines to try to prevent the cancer cells from becoming resistant to just one or two medicines.
Chemotherapy medicines are given together in courses, often over a few days. Once the body has recovered from the side effects, the next course is given. Most children receive multiple courses of chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy may be used:
- before surgery (to shrink the tumour and make it easier to remove)
- after surgery (to destroy any remaining cancer cells)
- as the main treatment (if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, or if surgery is not a good option).
Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing. External radiation therapy is usually only used for Wilms tumour stages III, IV or V; it is used less often in earlier stages.
Radiation therapy can have long-term side effects in children. If the potential benefits outweigh the risks and radiation therapy is included in your child’s treatment, special care will be taken to reduce these risks.