Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a type of cancer, specifically a sarcoma (cancer of connective tissues such as muscles and bones). It’s the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma in children. This cancer often begins in the muscles that are attached to the bones and help the body to move.

There are a few different types of rhabdomyosarcomas, but the two most common ones are embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (which often affects children under five years old and usually begins in the head and neck, bladder, or genital area) and alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (which often affects older kids or teenagers and is usually found in the large muscles of the arms, legs, or trunk).

Symptoms of rhabdomyosarcoma can vary widely depending on where the cancer is located, but they can include a lump or swelling that keeps getting bigger, pain or soreness, a persistent headache, constipation, problems urinating or bloody urine, and others.

Treatment for this cancer often involves a combination of therapies, which can include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The prognosis for children with rhabdomyosarcoma largely depends on the type, stage, and location of the tumor, the child’s age, and other factors.

Muscle cancer

Causes of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that primarily affects children, involves the development of malignant cells in muscle tissue. The exact causes of rhabdomyosarcoma are not fully understood. However, there are several factors believed to contribute to its development. Here are a few:

1. Genetic Factors: Certain genetic syndromes, including Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Costello syndrome, Neurofibromatosis type 1, and more, have been associated with an increased risk of rhabdomyosarcoma. It’s believed that changes or mutations in certain genes that control cell growth and division might play a role in the development of rhabdomyosarcoma.

2. Familial Patterns: A very small percentage of rhabdomyosarcomas seem to run in families. But, most of these cancers occur randomly, with no links to family history.

3. Age: Rhabdomyosarcoma typically affects children and is most common in kids under the age of six. However, it can occur at any age.

4. Prenatal Exposure: There are some investigations suggesting that exposure to certain substances in the prenatal stage may increase the risk, although this still requires more research.

Despite these factors, most cases of rhabdomyosarcoma occur in children and adolescents with no clear risk factors. More research is needed to explain why some people develop this disease and others do not.

Risk Factors of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that primarily affects children, but can also occur in adults. This cancer forms in soft tissue cells that eventually become skeletal muscle cells. The actual cause of rhabdomyosarcoma is still unclear, but numerous factors may increase the risk of the disease. Risk factors for rhabdomyosarcoma include:

1. Age: Rhabdomyosarcoma predominantly affects children, especially those between the ages of 1 and 9. Although the condition can also affect adults, it’s much less common.

2. Genetic conditions: Certain inherited disorders are known to increase the risk of developing rhabdomyosarcoma. These include Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), Costello syndrome, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, and Cardio-facio-cutaneous syndrome among others.

3. Family history: Although rhabdomyosarcoma most often arises from spontaneous mutations, having a family history of the disease can increase the risk.

4. Gender: Male children are slightly more likely to develop rhabdomyosarcoma than female children.

5. Previously received radiation therapy: If someone has had radiation therapy for a different cancer, they may be at a slightly higher risk of developing rhabdomyosarcoma.

Remember that having one or more risk factors does not guarantee the development of rhabdomyosarcoma – they merely increase the chances. Many people with these risk factors do not develop the disease, and some people who get the disease might not have any known risk factors.

Signs and Symptoms of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that usually starts in muscles that are attached to bones and that help the body move. It’s the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children. However, it can occur at any age. Symptoms can vary greatly depending on the size and location of the cancer, and sometimes may be absent until the disease has advanced. Below are the common symptoms:

1. A lump or swelling that keeps getting bigger or does not go away. It could be anywhere in the body since this cancer can start in many different places.

2. Pain at the site of the tumor. Some tumors might press against nerves or other structures, leading to pain or discomfort.

3. Numbness, tingling, or weakness, if the tumor is pressing on certain nerves.

4. Problems related to urination or stool such as constipation or incontinence, if the tumor is in the bladder or prostate.

5. Headache and nausea, if the tumor is in the head or neck area.

6. Bleeding from the nose, throat, vagina, or rectum, if the tumor is in these areas.

7. Difficulty in swallowing or drooping of the face, if the tumor is in the head or neck area.

8. Eye related problems like a bulging eye, a drooping eyelid, or a change in vision, if the tumor is behind the eye.

Always remember that these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than rhabdomyosarcoma. However, if you have these symptoms and they last for a while, it is advisable to see a doctor.

Diagnosis Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of cancer that is very rare and primarily affects children. It forms in soft tissues, particularly in the muscles that are attached to the bones and aid in body movement.

Rhabdomyosarcoma most often affects parts of the body like the head, neck, groin, abdomen, pelvis, or, in some cases, in limbs. The cells in rhabdomyosarcoma resemble the muscle cells seen in an embryo or young fetus, indicating that the condition is likely a development disorder.

Symptoms include painless mass or swellings, bloody urine, headaches, swelling around the eyes, and other region-specific symptoms. Diagnosis typically involves a combination of imaging tests, biopsies, and sometimes, bone marrow tests.

Treatment for this condition could involve surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Prognosis often depends on the stage of cancer, the site, and the overall health of the patient. It’s a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention and management.

Treatment of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that mostly affects children. It forms in soft tissue, particularly in the muscles that are attached to bones and help the body move. Treatment options vary depending on the location and stage of the disease, the patient’s age, and overall health.

1. Surgery: During this procedure, doctors aim to eliminate as much of the tumor as possible without causing significant damage to surrounding tissues. In some cases, the entire tumor can be removed, but in others, this may be too risky or impossible due to the tumor’s location near vital organs.

2. Chemotherapy: This is a systemic treatment that uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body. It can be used in conjunction with surgery or radiation therapy. Doctors may use chemotherapy before operations to shrink tumors, after operations to kill remaining cells, or as the primary treatment when surgery isn’t an option.

3. Radiation therapy: In this treatment, high-energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, are used to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy could be used if the tumor can’t be fully removed with surgery or in cases where the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.

4. Targeted therapy: This strategy focuses on specific vulnerabilities in cancer cells using drugs or other substances. Targeted therapy can help to minimize damage to healthy cells.

5. Immunotherapy: This is a treatment that harnesses the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

6. Stem cell transplant: High doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy can destroy bone marrow. In a stem cell transplant, healthy stem cells are infused into the body to replace the bone marrow destroyed by treatment.

The choice of a specific treatment or combination of treatments depends on a number of factors, including the type and location of the rhabdomyosarcoma, its stage, and the patient’s overall health. In general, treatment planning involves a team of doctors and cancer care professionals, including pediatric oncologists, radiation oncologists, and others. It is also worth mentioning that partaking in clinical trials for new and experimental treatments can be considered an option for some patients.

Medications commonly used for Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in the body’s soft tissues, like the muscles. Here are some of the common medications that may be used to treat rhabdomyosarcoma:

1. Chemotherapy drugs: These are the most commonly used treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma. They are used to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing. This might include drugs like vincristine, actinomycin D, and cyclophosphamide.

2. Radiation therapy: Though not technically a medication, high-energy particles or waves such as X-rays and gamma rays are used to kill or damage cancer cells.

3. Targeted Therapy: These treatments target the changes in cancer cells that help them grow, divide, and spread. For example, IGF-1R inhibitors are sometimes used to treat rhabdomyosarcoma.

4. Immunotherapy drugs: These work by helping your immune system fight the cancer. For rhabdomyosarcoma, drugs like ipilimumab or nivolumab may be used.

Please note that the exact treatments and drugs used can vary depending on a number of factors, including the patient’s overall health, the stage of the cancer, and its location. It’s important to discuss these options with a healthcare provider for a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan.

Prevention of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a rare type of cancer that forms in soft tissues – specifically skeletal muscle tissue or sometimes hollow organs such as the bladder or uterus. RMS can occur at any age, but it most often affects children.

While specific preventive measures for rhabdomyosarcoma have not been clearly outlined due to its rarity and largely unknown causes, there are general practices that can help minimize the risk of developing cancers, even though they can’t prevent all cancers:

1. Healthy lifestyle: A balanced diet, regular exercise, and staying away from substances known to promote cancers (like tobacco and alcohol) can contribute to overall health and potentially reduce the risk of various types of cancers.

2. Regular checkup: As RMS can appear anywhere in the body, regular physical examinations can help detect potential issues earlier. This may not prevent the cancer, but early detection generally leads to better outcomes.


3. Prenatal care: Some studies suggest that certain prenatal exposures may increase the risk of RMS, so avoiding harmful substances and environments during pregnancy might help reduce risk.

4. Genetic testing and counseling: If there is a history of RMS or other cancer types in your family, genetic testing and counseling may inform you about the potential risks and preventive measures that can be taken.

Remember, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice.

FAQ’s about Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a type of sarcoma, which is cancer of soft tissue (such as muscle), connective tissue (such as tendon or cartilage), or bone. RMS can occur at any age, but it most often affects children. Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about RMS:

1. What is Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS)?
RMS is a rare type of cancer that is most often found in children but can also occur in adults. It forms in muscle tissue and can occur in any part of the body.

2. What causes RMS?
The exact cause of RMS is not known. However, certain genetic conditions may increase the risk of developing RMS, such as neurofibromatosis, Costello syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and others.

3. What are the symptoms of RMS?
Symptoms vary depending on the location of the tumor. Common symptoms can include a noticeable lump or swelling, pain, fever, weight loss, or symptoms related to the specific location of the tumor.

4. How is RMS diagnosed?
RMS is typically diagnosed through a variety of tests and procedures including a physical examination, imaging studies like X-rays, Ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, and a biopsy where a sample of tissue is removed for examination under a microscope.

5. How is RMS treated?
The treatment for RMS usually involves a combination of therapies which could include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The type of treatment will depend on the location, stage, and subtype of RMS.

6. What are the survival rates for RMS?
The survival rates for RMS depend on several factors such as the size and location of the tumor, the stage of the disease, the subtype, and the treatment received. But overall, the prognosis for children with RMS has improved significantly over the years with ongoing research and advancements in treatment.

7. Can RMS be prevented?
Because the exact cause of RMS is not known, currently there are no specific ways to prevent it. However, early detection and treatment of RMS can significantly improve the outcomes.

8. Are there any long-term effects of treatment?
Yes, long-term effects of treatment can include physical and emotional problems. This can include movement problems if surgery was done on limbs, learning and memory problems if radiation therapy was used on the brain, heart and lung problems from some types of chemotherapy, and emotional issues including fear of recurrence.

Please remember, it’s important to consult a medical professional for advice and treatment if RMS is suspected.

Useful links

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a type of cancer that generally starts in muscles that are attached to bones and are used for movement. It’s more common in children although it can occur at any age. It is a rare type of cancer, but it is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children.

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35839732/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34958505/

Please discuss any of this information with your doctor to get a better understanding and personalized advice.

Complications of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of cancer that forms in the body’s soft tissues, like the muscles. It typically affects children, though it can also occur in adults. Complications from rhabdomyosarcoma can vary depending on the location of the tumor, how far the cancer has spread, and the patient’s overall health, among other factors. Here are a few potential complications:

1. Metastasis: This occurs when the cancer cells spread to other parts of the body from the original tumor site. Rhabdomyosarcoma most commonly spreads to the lymph nodes, lungs, bones, bone marrow, and rarely to the brain.

2. Treatment side effects: Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy can lead to side effects. They can include fatigue, hair loss, nausea, an increased risk of infection (due to a weakened immune system), and damage to organs.

3. Local effects of the tumor: Depending on where the tumor is located, it can cause pain and interfere with the function of nearby organs or tissues. For example, a rhabdomyosarcoma located in the eye can lead to vision problems.

4. Psychological impact: The diagnosis and treatment of rhabdomyosarcoma can have a significant psychological impact, resulting in issues like anxiety, depression, and fear.

5. Late effects of treatment: Survivors of rhabdomyosarcoma, particularly those diagnosed in childhood, may experience long-term effects of the disease and its treatment later in life. These can include growth and development issues, infertility, organ dysfunction, secondary cancers, and psychological trauma (post-traumatic stress disorder).

6. Physical limitations: If the cancer affects the patient’s limbs, it may cause physical limitations and reduce the patient’s quality of life.

These complications are serious and require comprehensive medical management. As such, patients with rhabdomyosarcoma often need supportive care alongside their cancer treatment to help manage these complications.

Home remedies of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that mainly affects children, but can occur at any age. It develops from rhabdomyoblasts, the cells which normally develop into skeletal muscles. While home remedies may help to manage some of the symptoms or side effects caused by treatments, it’s important to note that they’re not cures for the cancer itself. Only medical treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation can treat this type of cancer.

However, here are some suggestions to help manage the symptoms and side effects of treatments at home:

1. Proper Nutrition: Eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help keep the body strong and promote healing.

2. Hydration: Staying well-hydrated can help manage symptoms like fatigue and dry mouth, and is particularly important if treatments are causing nausea and vomiting.

3. Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers can help to manage any pain related to the cancer or its treatments. Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding these medications.

4. Adequate Rest: Getting plenty of sleep is important for healing and recovery. If the person has trouble sleeping, comfortable pillows, a quiet environment, and a regular sleep schedule might help.

5. Mind-Body Therapies: Certain therapies and practices, like yoga, meditation, and massage, might help to diminish symptoms of stress, anxiety, and pain.

Remember, it’s important to only use these, or any other home remedies, in conjunction with your healthcare provider’s recommended treatment plan. Always discuss any new remedies or therapies with your health care provider before starting them.

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Last Update: January 20, 2024