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Rhabdomyosarcoma: Causes, Treatments | Pediatric Solid Tumors

Pediatric Solid Tumors | Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of cancer that occurs in soft tissues. These cancers are one of the rarer forms and affect skeletal tissues or sometimes hollow organs such as the uterus and bladder. It is common in children, but the disorder can affect people of any age.

What is Rhabdomyosarcoma?

Rhabdomyosarcoma | Pediatric Solid Tumors
Rhabdomyosarcoma | Pediatric Solid Tumors

The name rhabdomyosarcoma is derived from the word rhabdomyoblasts, which are the cells from which this cancer arises. They eventually turn into the tissues that make up skeletal muscles, which are muscles that facilitate body movement.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is mostly found in children because rhabdoblasts are present in the developing fetus. About half of cases of this disorder occur in children, but rhabdomyosarcoma has also been reported in adults.

Types of Rhabdomyosarcomas Pediatric Solid Tumors

1. Embryonic rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of such cancer. Children below five years of age are usually affected by this disorder. ERMS occurs in the bladder, vagina, or head and neck area, or in or around the prostate and testicles.

2. Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcomas grow rapidly and spread more rapidly. They can occur in older age groups and affect the large muscles of the trunk, arms and legs.

3. Anaplastic rhabdomyosarcomas are rare in children.

The actual cause of the disorder is still unknown to scientists. However, it is considered a genetic disorder.

• Children who inherit certain genetic diseases have a higher risk of developing rhabdomyosarcoma. Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, and Noonan syndrome, Costello syndrome are among the genetic disorders that can be inherited.

What are the Symptoms of Rhabdomyosarcoma?

If the cancer affects the head and neck area –

  • • Bleeding in the throat, nose or ears
  • • Eye bulge or swelling
  • • Vision problems
  • • Cross eyes (strabismus)
  • • Headache
  • • Ear Ache
  • • Nasal congestion or nose bleeds

Cancer affects the Bladder or Reproductive System –

  • • Difficulty in bowel movements
  • • Vomiting
  • • Pain
  • • Constipation
  • • Difficulty urinating and blood in the urine
  • • A mass or bleeding in the vagina or rectum

If the cancer affects the arms or legs –

  • • Pain in the affected area
  • • Swelling or lump in the arm or leg that may be painless

What are the Causes of Rhabdomyosarcoma?

The exact cause of the disorder is unknown, but research is ongoing to find better treatment modalities.

1. Swelling/bulging in the affected area without pain

2. Sudden bleeding from nose or ears

3. Loss of bladder or bowel control

4. Urinary problems

What is the Treatment for Rhabdomyosarcoma?


However, if rhabdomyosarcoma has developed in or around organs or other vital structures, this is not always viable. When surgery cannot completely remove the cancer, doctors may remove as much of it as possible before using other treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation to destroy any remaining cancer cells.


Chemotherapy is one of the most effective treatments in the treatment of any cancer. It may also be use after the surgery or radiation therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. It can be use as a combination therapy or after radiation therapy for better results.

Radiation Therapy

To kill cancer cells, radiation therapy uses high-energy beams such as protons and X-rays. After surgery, radiation therapy may be suggest to eliminate any cancer cells.

Sometimes the tumor is present near a vital organ or can affect multiple organs. In such situation radiation therapy is an effective technique. (Pediatric Solid Tumors)

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