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Health Information For Parents
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS or “rhabdo”) is a cancerous tumor that develops in the body’s soft tissues, usually the muscles. It can affect the head, neck, bladder, vagina, arms, legs, trunk, or just about any body part. Cells from rhabdomyosarcomas are often fast growing and can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (rab-doe-myo-sar-KO-muh) is the most common type of soft-tissue cancer in children. Kids can develop it at any age, but most cases are in kids between 2 and 6 years old and 15 and 19 years old. Boys tend to be affected more often than girls.
Treating RMS usually includes chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. With early detection and timely treatment, most kids make a full recovery.
The two main types of RMS in kids are:
The cause of RMS isn’t clear, but doctors know that certain medical conditions can make some children more likely to develop it. These include genetic conditions like:
Symptoms of RMS depend on the size and location of the tumor. Sometimes a lump may appear on a child’s body and there may be swelling, often without pain. Other times, the tumor may be so deep within the body that it causes few if any symptoms.
Rhabdomyosarcoma in the head may cause headaches, bulging of an eye, or a droopy eyelid. In the urinary system, RMS affects urination (peeing) and bowel movements, and can lead to blood in the pee or stool (poop). If a muscle tumor is pressing on a nerve, a child might feel tingling or weakness in that area.
If a doctor thinks a child has RMS or another soft-tissue tumor, he or she will do a thorough physical exam and order these tests:
Treatment of RMS and other soft-tissue tumors depends on staging. Staging helps determine the extent of the cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Knowing the stage of the disease helps doctors decide how to treat it.
Staging takes into account details like the size of the tumor (or tumors), how deeply the tumor has penetrated an organ, the area of the body where the cancer began, and whether the tumor has spread to other organs.
Other information (like the type of tumor and the child’s age and overall health) also helps doctors develop treatment plans. Those plans can include the following options, in combination or alone:
Being told that a child has cancer can be a terrifying experience, and the stress of cancer treatment can be overwhelming for any family.
Although you might feel like it at times, you’re not alone. To find support for yourself or your child, talk to your doctor, a hospital social worker, or a child life specialist. Many resources are available that can help you get through this difficult time.
Visit our Cancer Center for teens to get information and advice on treating and coping with cancer.
Cancer is a serious illness that needs special treatment. Find out more about how kids can cope with cancer.
From treatments and prevention to coping with the emotional aspects of cancer, the Cancer Center provides comprehensive information that parents need.
It’s normal for kids to have hair loss, skin changes, or weight gain during treatment. This article offers tips for helping kids feel better about their appearance.
Eating as well as possible and staying hydrated can help kids undergoing cancer treatment keep up their strength and deal with side effects. These tips can help.
Side effects of cancer treatment can include flu-like symptoms, hair loss, and blood clotting problems. After treatment ends, most side effects go away.
It’s common to put your own needs last when caring for a child you love. But to be the best you can be, you need to take care of yourself, too. Here are some tips to help you recharge.
If you’ve just finished a long hospital stay, you may have questions about reconnecting with friends and family. Get answers in this article for teens.
Get the basics on cancer and cancer treatments in this article.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is treatment with medicines that stop the growth of cancer cells. Find out how chemo works and what to expect when getting treatment.
It’s unusual for teens to have cancer, but it can happen. The good news is that most will survive and return to their everyday lives. Learn about how to cope if you or someone you know has cancer.
More than half of all people with cancer are treated with radiation therapy. Get the facts on radiation therapy, including what it is, what to expect, and how to cope with side effects.
Like an X-ray, an ultrasound is a way of looking at what’s going on inside a person’s body.
A CAT scan or CT scan is a painless procedure that takes detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Watch how an abdominal CAT scan is done in this video for kids.
Radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, irradiation, or X-ray therapy, is one of the most common forms of cancer treatment.
This type of cancer mainly develops in the arms, legs, ribs, spinal column, and pelvis. Early diagnosis and treatment mean most kids have a good chance of recovery.
Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer. Boys are more likely to have osteosarcoma than girls, and most cases of osteosarcoma involve the knee.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is treatment with medicines that stop the growth of cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is a big word for treatment with medicines used to help people who have cancer. This medicine kills the cancer cells that are making the person sick.
When your child has a serious or chronic illness, it’s hard to think beyond the next treatment. But with planning and communication, you can help your child balance treatment and academics.
When chemotherapy and other treatments attack cancer cells, they can affect some of the body’s healthy cells too. As a teen, you’ll want to know what this can mean to your fertility.
While some cancer treatments have little to no effect on reproductive health, others are more likely cause temporary or permanent infertility.
Long-term side effects, or late effects, happen to many cancer survivors. With early diagnosis and proper follow-up care, most late effects can be treated or cured.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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