Radiation Therapy for Wilms Tumor

At NYU Langone, our doctors sometimes recommend low-dose radiation therapy for children who have a Wilms tumor. This may be used after surgery or to treat cancer that has spread to other organs. Radiation uses energy beams that penetrate the skin, destroying cancer cells in the body. When it is directed at the area where the tumor was located, it can help reduce the risk of a recurrence.

Before radiation therapy, your child may be fitted with a plastic body cast to keep him or her in the same position during each treatment. Or, he or she may receive small tattoos the size of a pinprick to help the technician position the machine correctly at each treatment.

During treatment, your child lies on a table that slides into the radiation machine. Our specialists consult an NYU Langone pediatric anesthesiologist if sedation is necessary.

Radiation treatment typically occurs daily, five days a week, for up to seven weeks.

Managing Side Effects

The most common side effects of radiation therapy include mild, sunburn-like redness and burning of the skin, as well as diarrhea, fatigue, and nausea. Long-term side effects include reduced kidney function, delayed growth, and damage to the ovaries in girls, which can lead to problems with menstruation and fertility.

Your child’s NYU Langone pediatric oncologist and radiation oncologist work with nurses, social workers, and child psychologists to provide support to help your child with the physical and emotional side effects of radiation therapy.

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