Cancer Home > Wilms' Tumor

Making a Diagnosis

If a child has symptoms of Wilms' tumor, the child's healthcare provider will likely need to:
  • Feel the child's abdomen for lumps and run blood and urine tests.
  • Order a special x-ray called an intravenous pyelogram (IVP). During this test, a dye containing iodine is injected into the child's bloodstream. This allows the child's doctor to see the kidney more clearly on the x-ray.
  • Order an ultrasound, which uses sound waves to make a picture, or a special x-ray called a computed tomography (CT) scan to look for lumps in the kidney.
  • Order a special scan called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses magnetic waves to make a picture.
  • Order chest and bone x-rays.
If abnormal tissue is found, the child's doctor will need to cut out a small piece and look at it under the microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. This is called a biopsy.

Wilms' Tumor Staging

Once Wilms' tumor has been found, more tests will be done to find out if cancer cells have spread from the kidney to other parts of the body. This is called Wilms' tumor staging. The child's healthcare provider will need to determine the stage of Wilms' tumor in order to plan treatment. For Wilms' tumors, the stage is based on the amount of tumor that remains after the patient has had surgery to look at or remove the tumor.
Specific Wilms' tumor stages include:
  • Stage I
  • Stage II
  • Stage III
  • Stage IV
  • Stage V
  • Recurrent.


In addition to the stages, Wilms' tumors are described by their histology. The histology, or how the cells look under a microscope, of the tumor affects the prognosis and may be favorable or unfavorable. Tumors with a favorable histology respond better to treatment than those with unfavorable histology.
(For more information, click Wilms' Tumor Stages.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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