Soft tissue sarcoma; Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma; Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma; Sarcoma botryoides
Definition of Rhabdomyosarcoma
Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancerous (malignant) tumor of the muscles that are attached to the bones.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The cause of rhabdomyosarcoma is unknown. It is a rare tumor with only several hundred new cases per year throughout the United States.
The most common symptom is a mass that may or may not be painful.
Signs and tests
Diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma is often delayed because of lack of symptoms, and because the tumor may appear at the same time as a recent injury. Early diagnosis is important because rhabdomyosarcoma is an aggressive tumor that spreads quickly.
The precise treatment depends on the site and type of rhabdomyosarcoma. Because of its rarity, this tumor is best treated at a center with experience treating many patients with rhabdomyosarcoma.
While aggressive treatment is usually necessary, most children with rhabdomyosarcoma will achieve long-term survival. Cure depends on the specific type of tumor, its location, and the amount that has spread.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 3/2/2010