How common is rhabdomyosarcoma?
- Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in childhood. In the United States, about 250 children are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma each year.
- For unknown reasons, males are affected slightly more often than females.
- Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common type of rhabdomyosarcoma, usually occurs in children under 6 years old.
- Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma occurs in older children and accounts for about 20 percent of all cases.
What causes rhabdomyosarcoma?
Most doctors believe that some rhabdomyosarcoma tumors begin developing in the fetus. Rhabdomyoblasts are the cells at the initial stages of development of an unborn baby. These cells will mature and develop into muscles.
Rhabdomyosarcomas usually have some type of chromosome abnormality in the cells of the tumor. There has been no association between rhabdomyosarcoma and environmental exposures.
What kind of symptoms will my child have?
Each child experiences symptoms differently. Many symptoms depend on the size and the location of the tumor. Symptoms may not be present until the tumor is very large, especially if it is located deep in the muscle or in the stomach.
Your child's symptoms may include:
- a tumor or mass that can be seen or felt (may or may not be painful)
- bleeding from the nose, vagina, rectum, or throat (may occur if the location of the tumor is in these areas)
- tingling, numbness, pain, and movement (may be affected if the tumor compresses nerves in the area)
- protrusion of the eye or a drooping eyelid (may indicate a tumor behind the area)