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Wilms tumor and genetics

The World Health Organization estimates that more than three hundred thousand children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide each year [2].


Wilms tumor is one of the most common childhood renal cancers, although its incidence is not too high: 1 in 10,000 children per year worldwide [7]. The good news is that, if detected early, the chances of successful treatment are very high. But what is this tumor and what are its symptoms?


What is Wilms’ tumor?


Nephroblastoma or Wilms’ tumor is a rare type of cancer that occurs in the cells of one or both kidneys. It usually affects children younger than 5 years old and are rare in those older than 15 [3]. The ages at which this tumor is most commonly diagnosed are 3 and 4 years [4], being extremely unusual to find it in adults.


Certain genetic conditions or birth defects can increase the risk of developing this type of cancer. In some cases, the abnormalities present in the DNA that could lead to Wilms’ tumor are inherited from parents to children, although in most cases it is not known whether this transmission occurs directly to the offspring [5].


Thanks to scientific and technological advances, Wilms tumor is nowadays curable in the vast majority of cases. Its five-year survival rate is over 90%. Its prognosis depends on the stage of the tumor at the time it’s detected, its size and the age of the patient [3]. At younger ages the probabilities of success increase considerably.

que es el tumor de wilms

Types of Wilms’ tumors


There are two main types of Wilms’ tumors grouped according to their histology, or what is the same, their appearance under the microscope: favorable and anaplastic [6]. 


Favorable Wilms tumor: there are cells that are not completely normal, but not grossly abnormal either. The prognosis in children with this type of tumor is very optimistic.

Anaplastic Wilms tumor: the cells have a very variable appearance and some of their parts are large or distorted. This is known as anaplasia and may be focal or diffuse, depending on whether it is limited to some parts of the tumor or widespread throughout the tumor.


The majority of Wilms’ tumors have a favorable histology.

Symptoms of nephroblastoma


Like many other types of cancer, nephroblastoma in many cases doesn’t cause symptoms until its size becomes considerable. One of the first symptoms referred to in this case is a bulging of the belly, on one or both sides, which may be accompanied by pain. Other symptoms that may occur are the following:


– Nausea, vomiting or both.

– Loss of appetite.

– Difficulty to breath

– Constipation

– Blood in the urine

– High blood pressure.

nefroblastoma o tumor de wilms

Wilms’ tumor and 24Genetics


With the 24Genetics health test, which can also be performed on children and babies, you can find out their genetic predisposition to Wilms’ tumor. Our expert geneticists analyze the DNA of the sample they receive in our laboratory and our algorithm, based on thousands of validated scientific studies, allows us to know the predisposition to develop it at some point. Click here to learn more about all the information that our health test can provide you with.  


You can purchase the kit to perform this test in our online store. Ask us if you have any doubts and ask for the special kits we have to facilitate the collection of the saliva sample in children and babies. Although in most cases cancer is not preventable, we can know if we should be more attentive to the first warning signs thanks to genetic testing.




[1] Cancer Statistics – National Cancer Institute [updated Sep. 2020; accessed Jan. 2023] Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/espanol/cancer/naturaleza/estadisticas

[2] Every three minutes a minor dies worldwide from some type of cancer – Alexandra Ruiz – France 24 [published Feb. 2020; accessed Jan. 2023] Available at: https://www.france24.com/es/20200215-cancer-infantil-organizacion-mundial-de-la-salud-dia-mundial-cancer

[3] Wilms tumor or nephroblastoma – Dr. José Manuel Moreno Villares. Co-director of the Department of Pediatrics – Clínica Universitaria de Navarra. Cancer Center [accessed Jan. 2023] Available at: https://cancercenter.cun.es/todo-sobre-cancer/tipos-cancer/tumor-wilms-nefroblastoma

[4] Wilms tumor – Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER) [updated Jul. 2021; accessed Jan. 2023] Available at: https://middlesexhealth.org/learning-center/espanol/enfermedades-y-afecciones/tumor-de-wilms

[5] Wilms tumor – Mayo Clinic [updated Jul. 2021; accessed Jan. 2023] Available at:  


[6] If Your Child Has Wilms Tumor – American Cancer Society Medical Writing Team and Medical Editors Team [updated Oct. 2018; accessed Jan. 2023] Available from: https://www.cancer.org/es/cancer/tumor-de-wilms/si-su-hijo-tiene-un-tumor-de-wilms.html

[7] Wilms tumor – Juan José Gómez-Piña and Alejandro Manfredo Flores-Azamar – Medicina interna de México vol.35 no.1 Mexico City [published Feb. 2019; accessed Jan. 2023] Available at: https://www.scielo.org.mx/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0186-48662019000100177#:~:text=I%20estimate%20that%20the%20incidence,de%203.5%20a%C3%B1os%20of%20age.

Written by Debora Pino García


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