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

Childhood Cancer – The Facts and Reality

Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children.

  • Rhabdomyosarcoma affects approximately 350 children each year, most commonly found in children less than 15 years old.  Almost two-thirds of children’s rhabdo cases develop in children under 10.
  • In children, there are two major subtypes of Rhabdomyosarcoma, based on the way the tumor cells look under the microscope.
  • Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) is the most common type of Rhabdomyosarcoma in children.
    • ERMS tends to occur in younger children. Common sites include the eye, known as the orbit, 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, vagina and bladder, and can appear as a botryoid (grape-like) mass on the surface. Tumors having this botryoid histology are a subtype of embryonal RMS.
  • Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) makes up about 25-40% of Rhabdomyosarcoma in children. This type is more commonly found in adolescents and often occurs on the arms and legs.
  • Most often Rhabdomyosarcoma presents as a mass, but the location of the primary tumor can vary.
  • Under the microscope, Rhabdomyosarcoma can look similar to several other types of children’s cancers such as neuroblastoma, Ewing sarcoma and lymphoma

The Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF) is committed to improving rare pediatric cancer treatment options in an effort to increase survival rates of kids with cancer so they can live their dreams.  Our partnership with Levine Children’s Hospital will fund and create the ISF Rare and Solid Tumor Program.  This $5 million initiative will be designed to research and treat a wide range of deadly pediatric cancers while allowing the hospital to expand their clinical trials and provide extraordinary patient experience for all children and families with rare and solid tumors.

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