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Rhabdomyosarcoma in Children



About Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma in children (also called “rhabdo” or RMS) is a tumor in which malignant (cancer) cells look like young, immature muscle cells. It is the most common soft tissue sarcoma (cancer of soft and connective tissue) found in children. In the United States, about 350 new cases are diagnosed each year in children under 20 years of age. Almost two-thirds of pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma cases are diagnosed in children under 6.

RMS can arise in any muscle of the body, but the most common sites are:

  • Adjacent to the base of the skull (parameningeal)
  • Around the eye (orbital)
  • Other sites in the head and neck, such as the cheek or lip
  • Arms and legs (extremities)
  • Urinary and reproductive organs (genitourinary system) including bladder, vagina, prostate and soft tissue around the testicles

In children, there are two major subtypes of RMS, based on the tumor cell appearance under the microscope:

  • Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS): It is the most common type (60-70% of cases) and tends to occur in younger children.
  • Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS): More commonly found in adolescents.

Signs and Symptoms of Rhabdomyosarcoma

The most common presenting symptom of RMS is a growing mass or swelling wherever the tumor forms. Other signs and symptoms depend on the location of the primary tumor, which are described below.

For tumors presenting in the urinary and reproductive organs, children may experience blood in the urine, difficulty urinating, or bleeding from the vagina.

For tumors presenting adjacent to the base of skull (includes the nasal cavity, middle ear, and sinuses), the cancer can cause facial asymmetry, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, ear bleeding or discharge, headaches and facial pain. Swelling or bulging around the eye is a common sign of a tumor arising around the orbit.

Extremity tumors (those in the arms or legs) often present as a rapidly enlarging, firm mass.


News About Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma in Children was last modified: April 13th, 2017 by Geoff Duncan
Trey Nida, Rhabdomyosarcoma

Trey Nida, Rhabdomyosarcoma

20 Months Old at Diagnosis. In May 2012, when Timothy W. Nida III (Trey, for short) was only 20 months old, he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in his bladder/prostate. It was a shock to his parents Timothy and Cassandra, who were saddened to know that their... read more
Aaron Stone, Sclerosing Rhabdomyosarcoma

Aaron Stone, Sclerosing Rhabdomyosarcoma

16 Years Old at Diagnosis. Aaron was your typical 16-year-old – he loved sports, played the drums in a band, and was working as an umpire. In June 2015, he was having pain in his jaw, so he told us that he thought his wisdom teeth were coming in. Being the good... read more
Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Andrew Kung

Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Andrew Kung

For young cancer patients with rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma and osteosarcoma, 5-year survival rates are between 20-40%. That’s a statistic that no parent should ever have to hear, and it’s one of the many reasons why CureSearch is on a mission to find a... read more
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