and Other Kidney Cancers Affecting Children
Treating children with kidney cancer requires a team approach to provide comprehensive care. At Duke Children's, our pediatric oncologists work with pediatric urologists and nephrologists to customize treatment for children with Wilms’ tumor and other kidney cancers. We offer support and assistance to help you and your family manage the practical and emotional aspects of your child's condition.
Expert Care for Your Child's Wilm’s Tumor
Childhood kidney cancers occur when immature cells in the kidneys grow out of control and form a tumor. Wilm's tumor is the most common type of kidney cancer in children. While it can affect both kidneys, it usually only develops in one. Other, less common kidney tumors include clear cell sarcoma, renal cell carcinoma, mesoblastic nephroma, and rhabdoid tumors.
Duke Children's kidney cancer specialists treat all types of kidney cancer, including rare or advanced kidney cancer. It's comforting to know your child has an experienced team on their side.
- Our pediatric doctors are also researchers who collaborate with cancer specialists worldwide through the Children's Oncology Group, the world’s largest childhood and adolescent cancer research organization. That means your child gets the combined expertise of leading cancer researchers and has access to the latest treatments, including some of today’s most promising treatments through clinical trials.
- Most children with a Wilm’s tumor or other kidney cancer need surgery. Our pediatric surgeons specialize in organ-sparing surgery that removes the tumor but leaves as much healthy kidney tissue as possible. Children who need an entire kidney removed can still lead a normal, healthy life.
- You can be confident in our skill and experience. Duke Children’s is one of only seven hospitals in the U.S. verified as a level I children's surgery center by the American College of Surgeons. This Level I designation recognizes our commitment to providing the safest and highest-quality surgical care to our young patients.
- You’ll receive clear information about your child's condition, treatment options, and side effects so you can make informed decisions. We offer a wide range of services to help -- emotional support for the entire family, care to minimize treatment side effects, help with coordinating your child’s care, and much more. We're here to support you and offer guidance whenever you need us.
Our doctors use a variety of blood, urine, and imaging tests to identify your child's kidney cancer, the tumor's location, and whether it’s spread to other parts of the body. Our initial testing helps doctors determine the best treatment approach for your child. Each type of kidney tumor requires a different treatment, and you child’s care plan may include one or more different approaches.
Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells or stops them from growing, and prevents cancer from recurring. It is administered through an IV infusion, in a pill or liquid form, or an injection.
Most children with kidney cancer undergo surgery to remove the tumor and the tissue around it to make sure no cancer cells are left behind. When appropriate, our pediatric surgeons use minimally invasive surgery, which requires smaller incisions and lets your child feel better faster.
External-beam radiation therapy is delivered by a machine outside the body that focuses high-energy X-ray beams on tumors to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. Our pediatric radiation oncologists use advanced imaging techniques to deliver radiation to only the areas where it is needed and to minimize damage to surrounding tissues.
Family and Support Services
We treat the whole child -- not just the disease. Your child receives a personalized treatment and follow-up plan that’s tailored to their needs. You have access to a variety of services that are designed to make your child’s experience as positive as possible and support your family throughout treatment.
We offer outpatient services -- such as chemotherapy, transfusions, and lab tests -- 12 hours a day, seven days a week at Duke Children’s Valvano Day Hospital. This means your child won’t need to be admitted to the hospital just because they don’t feel well or need treatment over the weekend or when your doctor’s office is closed.
You want your child to be as comfortable as possible during treatment. Our team focuses on managing your child’s symptoms and other aspects of treatment that affect your child’s quality of life. We help with pain management, supportive nutrition, relaxation techniques, and more to help your child get through treatment. We’re here to improve your child’s and your family’s well-being during treatment and hospitalization.
Teens and young adults are too old to be treated like young kids, but adult care might not be quite right for them either. Our Adolescent and Young Adult Program brings together the expertise of pediatric and adult cancer specialists to determine what’s best for each person, along with personalized psychological support. We customize treatment and services that consider your child’s unique needs, including support and guidance to help them cope with treatment during high school or college and how treatment affects their social life.
Once treatment is complete, you can count on us for continuing support. We offer long-term follow-up services for preventive health care, including screenings, ongoing surveillance, and care for symptoms that develop later as a result of treatment. Our cancer care doctors and nurses work with social workers and child psychologists who can offer support and assistance with school-related or personal issues. In addition, we can help your child transition to adult cancer care services when they’re ready. You’ll have resources and support to ensure your child’s long-term well-being.
When your child is fighting cancer, it’s difficult for the entire family, so we try to make it a little easier on you. Whether it's explaining a procedure, offering encouragement, or arranging fun activities during therapy or during a hospital stay, your child gets care in a welcoming, kid-friendly environment. And, you and your family can get emotional support and education to help you cope as your child goes through treatment and recovery.
It’s helpful to have a team on your side to help you manage your child’s care. Our social workers help you navigate the medical system and coordinate the variety of health services your child needs. They can help you work with insurance providers, connect you with resources, and help you manage the details related to your child’s care. Our nurse coordinators can help you schedule appointments for tests, treatments, and other medical visits.
Enjoy a comfortable place to relax at the hospital. You can grab a light meal, shower, do laundry, or use a computer with internet access. Staffed by volunteers, the family room is here to make your time at the hospital a little more comfortable.