Never Forget Victoria: A Survivor: Wilms Tumor
by Arushi Neravetla
Wilms’ tumor, also called nephroblastoma, is a type of childhood cancer that starts in the kidneys, where around 9 of 10 kidney cancers in children are Wilms tumors. In general, cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control and can quickly spread to other areas of the body.
Figure 1: Three-old Victoria prior to being diagnosed with Wilms’ Tumor.
We are focusing on a three-year old girl named Victoria, who was initially diagnosed by her pediatrician after Victoria had experienced a terrible stomach-ache. However, her x-rays results revealed something else. Victoria had a Stage IV Wilms’ Tumor. This type of cancer involves heavy treatment involving chemotherapy and radiotherapy, with a 4-year survival rate from 44% to 86%. Victoria was soon admitted to a local children’s hospital and the tumor was deadly growing around the vena cava: two large veins that collect blood from the entire body and carry it towards the heart.
Figure 2: Dr. Quaglia, a leading pediatric surgeon who operated on Victoria.
During the 48-hour surgery, a leading pediatric surgeon Dr. Quaglia encountered a rupture which caused the tumor to disperse throughout the abdomen and it could no longer be removed at that time. Despite this issue, there was one good piece of news, a favorable histology. Favorable histology is when there is a good chance for the tumor to be most likely cured. Data has shown Victoria’s genes to be an offset to the surgery and can be done in a safe manner. As a result, doctors planned to have the tumor removed with surgery after decreasing its size through six-twelve weeks of chemotherapy.
Figure 3: Image of a Bilateral Wilms Tumor.
The family flew to New York City for a progress check and a CT scan revealed that Victoria’s tumor had shrunk by ⅔ from chemotherapy. During the surgical procedure, Dr. La Quaglia had to remove parts of Victoria’s liver, diaphragm, and kidney since the tumor had reached all those areas. One week later, Victoria began radiation therapy to eliminate the remaining tumor cells in her body including any that had spread towards her lungs. In January, a little over a month after surgery, Victoria was finally able to go home. By the beginning of March, Victoria was able to recover her pretreatment energy level, and regained her passion for dance and music once again. The obstacles she had faced had made her a survivor and researchers have found ways to revolutionize treatment for this type of cancer.
Thanks for reading this article, and we hope you learned a lot about this deadly type of tumor. If you enjoyed reading about this disease, you may also enjoy reading about Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, which is linked here.
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Thanks for reading, and until next time,
Arushi Neravetla and the Writing Committee :)