Orthopedic Surgery

Rhabdomyosarcoma

What is rhabdomyosarcoma?
Rhabdomyosarcoma is type of malignant soft tissue sarcoma that begins in a type of muscle called striated muscle. This can occur anywhere in the body.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of sarcoma found in the soft tissues of children.

When rhabdomyosarcoma is found, our musculoskeletal tumor team provides the expertise to improve your child's chance of recovery (prognosis). Treatment will depend on factors including the location and size of the tumor, how far the cancer has spread, how the cancer cells react to the treatment, and the patient's age and general health.

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Staging the tumor
When rhabdomyosarcoma is present, more tests will be done to find out if the cancer cells have spread to other parts of the child's body. Called staging, this helps us plan treatment.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is usually categorized into the following stages:

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How we can help — treatment options
Surgery is the common treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma. Our expert surgeons will remove as much of the cancer as possible.

Another treatment option is radiation therapy. This uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The radiation may be produced by a machine or by putting materials called radioisotopes through thin plastic tubes into the tumorous area.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs enter the child's bloodstream and travel through the body to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by mouth or put into the body through a needle in a vein or muscle.

Another treatment option is radiation therapy. This uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may be given before surgery or after surgery. Radiation may be produced by a machine or by putting materials called radioisotopes through thin plastic tubes into the tumorous area.

Bone marrow transplantation is another type of treatment that is being studied for recurrent rhabdomyosarcoma. Sometimes very high doses of chemotherapy are necessary to wipe out the rhabdomyosarcoma because the tumors have become resistant to standard doses. The high doses of drugs, however, can destroy the bone marrow. So before chemotherapy treatment begins, marrow is removed from the bones and stored. The marrow is then replaced. This is called an autologous bone marrow transplant.

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