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Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment

General Information About Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma

Childhood rhabdomyosarcoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in muscle tissue.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of sarcoma. Sarcoma is cancer of soft tissue (such as muscle), connective tissue (such as tendon or cartilage), and bone. Rhabdomyosarcoma usually begins in muscles that are attached to bones and that help the body move. Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of sarcoma found in the soft tissues of children. It can occur in many places in the body.

There are three main types of rhabdomyosarcoma:

See the following PDQ treatment summaries for more information about sarcomas:

Certain genetic conditions increase the risk of childhood rhabdomyosarcoma.

Anything that increases the risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Parents who think their child may be at risk should discuss this with the child's doctor. Risk factors for rhabdomyosarcoma include having the following inherited diseases:

High birth weight and larger than expected size at birth are linked with an increased risk of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma.

In most cases, the cause of rhabdomyosarcoma is not known.

A possible sign of childhood rhabdomyosarcoma is a lump or swelling that keeps getting bigger.

Lumps and other symptoms may be caused by childhood rhabdomyosarcoma. The symptoms that occur depend on where the cancer forms. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

Tests that examine the area of the body with symptoms are used to detect (find) and diagnose childhood rhabdomyosarcoma.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

For patients with recurrent cancer, prognosis and treatment depend on the following: