Annaully, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month but
why stop there, Wilms’ doesn’t.
We all want to see children running and skipping through grass and getting scabby knees from playing and laughing and in the playground. But sadly for some this can be a wistful dream, as much of their childhood can be spent within a hospital.
Children like Sofia, In 2013, at the tender age of six months, Sofia was diagnosed with Wilms’ tumour. The tumour had caused her previously-diagnosed reflux to worsen and despite her cot being raised and a high dose of reflux medication, Sofia was waking every twenty minutes during the night. Sofia also bravely underwent surgery and chemotherapy: all this from the age of six months!
You can read Sofia’s story here
Every day more than ten children in the UK are diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately only a small proportion of kidney cancer’s occur in children, however, for the families affected this is no consolation. About 40 children each year, in the UK, develop a Wilms’ tumour, the childhood strain of kidney cancer, which most often affects children under the age of five. For more information on childhood cancer, click here
We are not stopping at the end of September we are continuing on so as to help raise the awareness of childhood kidney cancers and the impact it can have on entire families across the year.
We can and do help families of children with kidney cancer by awarding patient support grants; these help families to cope with the
unexpected costs arising from a diagnosis. With your support we can aim to help even more families by removing some of their unexpected financial burden.
If you would like to make a donation to support us in our work, please click here. Thank you for your support.
What is Wilms tumour?
Wilms tumours are a type of kidney cancer that mainly affect children. They develop from cells called nephroblasts and so are also called nephroblastomas. Dr Max Wilms wrote the first medical paper about this condition. This is how it got its name.
Kidney cancer in children is rare but Wilms tumour is the most common type. Almost 85 children between the ages of 0 and 14 years are diagnosed with Wilms tumour each year in the UK. They are most common in children under 5. Rarely they can develop in older children and very rarely, in adults.
Wilms tumours usually only affect one kidney (unilateral). But in fewer than 10 out of every 100 children (less than 10%), it can affect both kidneys (bilateral).
The kidneys are part of your urinary system. This system filters water and waste products out of the blood and makes urine. It includes:
Inside the kidney, tiny networks of tubes called nephrons filter the blood. As blood passes through the nephrons all unwanted water and waste gets taken away. Chemicals that your body needs are kept and returned to the bloodstream.
Inside the nephrons, waste products move from the small blood vessels into urine collecting tubes. The urine gathers in an area called the renal pelvis at the centre of each kidney. From here it drains down a tube called the ureter and into the bladder.
There are 2 ureters, one from each kidney. Another tube called the urethra carries the urine from the bladder out of the body.
How Wilms tumours develop
When a baby is growing in the womb, the kidneys develop very early on. Sometimes something goes wrong. This can cause some of the early (immature) cells (or nephroblasts) to not turn into developed (mature) kidney cells. If this happens, they begin to grow out of control and may develop into a cancer known as a Wilms tumour.
The causes of Wilms’ tumours are unknown. We know about some factors that may increase the risk for a very small number of children. Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor.