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Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma

What is rhabdomyosarcoma?

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancerous tumor that originates in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, tendons and connective tissues. The most common sites for this tumor to be found include the head, neck, bladder, vagina, arms, legs and trunk. Rhabdomyosarcoma can also be found in places where skeletal muscles are absent or very small, such as in the prostate, middle ear and bile duct system. The cancer cells associated with this disease can spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body.

Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common type, usually occurs in children under 6 years of age. Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma occurs in older children and is less common.

Rhabdomyosarcoma accounts for about 3% of childhood cancers. In the U.S., about 350 children are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma each year. This disease mostly affects children under the age of 10, but can occur at any age. For unknown reasons, males are affected slightly more often than females.

  • What causes rhabdomyosarcoma in children?
  • What are the symptoms of rhabdomyosarcoma in children?
  • How is rhabdomyosarcoma in children diagnosed?
  • How is rhabdomyosarcoma in children treated?
  • What is the long-term outlook for a child with rhabdomyosarcoma?
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