What is Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 14, 2013

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Childhood rhabdomyosarcoma is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in muscle tissue.


Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of sarcoma. Sarcoma is cancer of soft tissue (such as muscle), connective tissue (such as tendon or cartilage), and bone. Rhabdomyosarcoma usually begins in muscles that are attached to bones and that help the body move. Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of sarcoma found in the soft tissues of children. It can occur in many places in the body.There are three main types of rhabdomyosarcoma:

  • Embryonal: This type occurs most often in the head and neck area or in the genital or urinary organs. It is the most common type.
  • Alveolar: This type occurs most often in the arms or legs, chest, abdomen, or genital or anal areas. It usually occurs during the teen years.
  • Anaplastic: This type rarely occurs in children.

Certain genetic conditions increase the risk of childhood rhabdomyosarcoma.


Risk Factors


Risk factors for rhabdomyosarcoma include having the following inherited diseases:

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
  • Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1).
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.
  • Costello syndrome.
  • Noonan syndrome.

In most cases, the cause of rhabdomyosarcoma is not known.


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