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Rhabdomyosarcoma

The Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health is a The Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health is a world-class and nationally recognized leader in pediatric cancer staffed by expert and experienced oncologists, surgeons and subspecialists. Our pediatric tumor specialists can help manage complex soft tissue cancers like rhabdomyosarcoma and offer expert second opinions.

What is Rhabdomyosarcoma?

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare childhood cancer of the soft tissue that typically begins in the muscle. Most children diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma are newborn to 14 years old, but a percentage of cases are diagnosed in adolescents and young adults between 15 and 19 years old.

What are the signs and symptoms of Rhabdomyosarcoma?

Most rhabdomyosarcomas are found in a child's head or neck, genitourinary tracts and extremities. They also have been diagnosed in the trunk, chest wall, abdominal area and perineal/anal area. Tumors found in the hand and foot usually are diagnosed in adolescents or young adults. The cancer can metastasize to other areas of the body, most commonly in the lymph nodes and lungs. Rhabdomyosarcoma is curable in most children and adolescents and prognosis depends on the patient’s age at diagnosis, the tumor’s origin, size, histopathology, stage and response to treatment.

How is Rhabdomyosarcoma diagnosed?

Imaging modalities include computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasonography. A biopsy will confirm the diagnosis.

What are the causes of Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma?

Several genetic syndromes increase a child’s risk for rhabdomyosarcoma, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome, neurofibromatosis Type 1 and Costello syndrome. A high birth weight in newborns may increase risk for the tumors. Symptoms often are localized to the tumor but may include painful masses or swelling, headache or trouble with urination or bowel movements.

How is Rhabdomyosarcoma treated?

Treatment includes chemotherapy and also may require surgery to completely remove the tumor. However, when the tumor is located near critical structures such as the eye, treatment may depend on chemotherapy and radiation therapy alone. 

A number of families travel to our facility because of our leading therapies backed by the latest research. Our team of multidisciplinary specialists leverages their experience treating rare tumors and experimental therapeutics to develop treatment plans for your child’s individual cancer. The specialists at Children’s Health℠ have extensive experience treating rhabdomyosarcoma. Many children with rhabdomyosarcoma are treated with therapy as part of ongoing clinical trials. Physicians at Children’s Health lead the development of such advanced therapy through trials initiated at UT Southwestern, Children’s Health and Children’s Oncology Group.

Children’s Health is staffed by expert and experienced oncologists, surgeons and subspecialists. The Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is a world-class and nationally recognized leader in pediatric cancer with experts who provide second opinions and help manage complex soft tissue cancers.

Rhabdomyosarcoma Doctors and Providers