Rhabdomyosarcoma is cancer in muscle cells. It’s most common in children aged 1-5 years old.
There are 3 main types:
Embryonal—more often in the head, neck, or genital and urinary organs (most common)
Alveolar—more often in the arms, legs, chest, belly, or genital or anal areas
Anaplastic—rarely happens in children
Cancer is when cells in the body split without control or order. These cells go on to form a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to harmful growths. These growths attack nearby tissues. They also spread to other parts of the body. It’s not clear exactly what causes these problems. It’s likely a mix of genes and the environment.
The exam and your child's test results will help find out the stage of cancer. Staging guides a treatment plan. Rhabdomyosarcoma is staged from 0-4. Stage 0 is a very localized cancer. Stage 4 is a spread to other parts of the body.
Treatment depends on the stage. More than one method is used. Options include:
Surgery may be done to remove the tumor and nearby tissue. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed at the same time.
Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation is aimed at the tumor from a source outside the body. It’s mainly used after surgery.
is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It may given by mouth, shots, or IV. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. It's used when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This will slow the pace of the disease, but won't offer a cure.
There is no way to prevent rhabdomyosarcoma since the cause is unknown.
General information about childhood rhabdomyosarcoma. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/patient/rhabdomyosarcoma-treatment-pdq. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Rhabdomyosarcoma. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/rhabdomyosarcoma.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Rhabdomyosarcoma in children. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at:https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/r/rhabdomyosarcoma. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Rhabdomyosarcoma in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115584/Rhabdomyosarcoma-in-children. Accessed January 29, 2021.
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