Print

Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS or ‘rhabdo’) is a tumor made up of cancerous cells that look like immature muscle cells.  In the United States, about 350 new cases are diagnosed each year in children under 15.  Almost two-thirds of children’s rhabdo cases develop in children under 10.

RMS may arise in any part of the body, but the most common sites for this tumor are:
  • Adjacent to the base of the skull (parameningeal)
  • Around the eye (orbital)
  • Other superficial sites in the head and neck, such as the cheek or lip
  • Arms and legs (extremities)
  • Urinary system and reproductive sexual organs
In children, there are two major types of rhabdo, which are defined by how the tumor cells look under the microscope (pathology).

Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) is the most common type.
  • ERMS tends to occur in younger children.  Common sites include the area around the eye known as the orbit, around the head and neck, and the genitourinary system.
  • ERMS often occurs in hollow organs that are lined with mucosa (moist tissue), such as the nasal passages, the vagina and the bladder, and can appear as a grape-like mass on the surface. 

Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) makes up about 25-40% of RMS.  This type is more commonly found in adolescents and often occurs on the arms and legs.

Last updated July, 2011

Newly Diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma
In Treatment for Rhabdomyosarcoma
After Treatment for Rhabdomyosarcoma

© The Children's Oncology Group
The information and content provided on this website is made available for informational purposes only for children and their families affected by cancer. While the Children's Oncology Group strives to provide accurate and up-to-date information, the information may be out of date or incomplete in certain respects. Please do not rely on this information and seek the care of a qualified medical professional if you have questions regarding a specific medical condition, disease, diagnosis or symptom. The information and content presented herein is not intended to replace the independent clinical judgement, medical advice, screening, health counseling, or other intervention performed by your (or your child's) health care provider. Please contact "911" or your emergency services if this is a health emergency. No endorsement of any specific tests, products, or procedures is made herein.