When the German surgeon Max Wilms described a certain renal cancer in children in his 1899 published work "The mixed tumors", he did not yet know that this should be named after him later Cancer diagnosis is initially always terrible, especially when it comes out of the blue and affects a child, but the Wilms tumor (or nephroblastoma), those affected can hope, at least from the beginning: He heard today the cancers with the best chance of recovery.
How is this disease and who is affected?
It has long been known that nephroblastoma originates from various embryonic stem tissues (hence "mixed tumor"), which usually either regresses to birth or develop into definitive tissue. Depending on the stage of development of the tumor cells and the tissue of origin, the tumor may look very different and multifarious under the microscope.
How exactly it happens that the germinal tissue in parts of the kidney does not develop normally, is not yet clear. However, it is now known that genes with the ominous names WT1 and WT2 on the chromosome number 11 and probably even more play a role. What also speaks for an innate component is that not so rare at the same time other malformations are present, for example, the lack of an eye lens, a giant growth of only one side of the body or a horseshoe kidney.
Although the Wilms' tumor is the most common kidney cancer in children, it is a rare occurrence with 1 disease in 100, 000 children. This corresponds to an annual incidence rate of 110 children in Germany. About one third of those affected are between 1 and 5 years old and 16% are babies. In 5% of cases both kidneys are affected.
How is the disease expressed?
Treacherous is that the tumor usually causes no symptoms for a long time - in about 10%, the diagnosis is a random finding during palpation as part of a routine examination. By far the most common symptom is the increase in the abdominal girth, which is often misinterpreted as a bloated abdomen or is also attributed to a good nutritional status. Less common are indigestion, blood in the urine or abdominal pain.