Skip to Content
make a donation

Rhabdo Facts

In our relentless pursuit of raising awareness about Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), it's crucial to understand the facts that underscore the significance of our mission. RMS is a rare soft tissue sarcoma that primarily affects children, teens, and young adults, making it all the more critical to shed light on this condition. As we explore these facts, we gain a deeper understanding of the challenges we face and the importance of our collective efforts in supporting research, families, and the fight against this formidable childhood cancer.

Icon among all

Among all childhood cancers, there are only


cases of Rhabdomyosarcoma diagnosed per year. The 5-year survival rate, though predicated on many factors has not realized a significant improvement in the high-risk group remaining at approximately 19%.

What Is Rhabdomyosarcoma?

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a rare soft tissue sarcoma that forms in muscle and connective tissue. It can occur at any age, but generally affects children, teens and young adults. It is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children.


Icon incidence

There are between


 newly diagnosed cases per year.


icon subtypes
  • Embryonal - peak incidence 0 -4 years of age and accounts for 57% of patients.
  • Alveolar - incidence is constant between 0 -19 years of age and accounts for 23% of patients.
  • Anaplastic - accounts for 2% of children.
  • Pleomorphic - generally seen in adults.
  • Sclerosing - only recently identified.

Primary Sites Of Location:

Head and Neck
Genital and urologic

Risk Factors:

Icon risk factor

Most cases occur sporadically and therefore have no associated risk factors. However, there are a few genetic disorders that carry mutations that can be associated with this cancer.

Clinical Presentation:

The most common presentation is a lump or swelling on the body. However, depending on the location of the tumor, there may be initial clinical symptoms associated with the location.

A primary tumor located in the head and neck may cause obstruction or discharge from the nose or throat. Tumors near the eye can cause swelling or protrusion near the orbit.

A tumor in the bladder may present with blood in the urine, likewise, tumors in the vagina will cause vaginal discharge or bleeding.

A tumor in the abdomen may present with pain and constipation.

Diagnosis Of RMS:

Biopsy of the tumor is the definitive method, but in order to stage the tumor and determine optimum therapy, a multitude of blood tests and scans will be obtained to include: chest x-ray, ultrasound, CT and MRI scans, blood tests and bone marrow aspirates.

Once the size, extent (localized vs. metastatic) and tumor subtype have been determined, the subsequent therapy will include surgical excision, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these modalities.


Prognosis is predicated on a multitude of factors. Localized lesions with complete resection of the tumor have the best 5-year prognosis. There is an association between the age of the patient at the time of diagnosis, along with the location site of the original tumor and the overall prognosis.

Many patients will initially achieve a good response from the chemotherapy within a 3-6 month time frame. The 1st intergroup rhabdomyosarcoma study in 1972 found ¾ of the patients with metastatic RMS had a 50% complete or 25% partial response within 15 weeks. The difficulty remains with preventing recurrence of occult disease. Most relapses occur within 24 months of diagnosis. Moreover, there has been no significant improvement in long term survival for patients with metastatic disease. (1) Sarcoma (2001) 5, 9-15.

Share this Page

Background StarfishStarfish Background GraphicBackground StarfishBackground Starfish
Background Top Footer Wave

Upcoming Events

Featured Image for Summer’s Way Golden Gala: Illuminate a Path to a Cancer-Free Tomorrow

Summer’s Way Golden Gala: Illuminate a Path to a Cancer-Free Tomorrow

Please join the Summer's Way Foundation for their annual fundraising event. All funds raised from and during the event will go directly towards supporting our efforts to end childhood cancer […]

View Event
View All Events

Contact Us

Get in touch with Summer's Way Foundation to discover more about our work and how to donate. We thank you for your support.

Background Footer Waves