Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a rare cancer that can affect the skeletal muscles, which control voluntary movement. It is highly treatable, but it can spread to other organs and systems in the body. Our team has the experience and resources to provide prompt diagnosis and effective treatment to give your child the best chance for a full and active life. As Florida’s only member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Alliance, Miami Cancer Institute is committed to fighting pediatric cancer, including rhabdomyosarcoma. We also work with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and other local partners to provide all the services and support your child might need.

What is rhabdomyosarcoma?

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare type of sarcoma that arises in immature cells called rhabdomyoblasts, which usually develop into skeletal muscle that controls voluntary movement all over our bodies. Because rhabdomyoblasts are immature cells, this cancer is most common in children.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is most common in the:

  • Head and neck.
  • Urinary and reproductive organs, such as the bladder and prostate gland.
  • Arms and legs.
  • Chest and abdomen.

What are the types of rhabdomyosarcoma?

There are three main types of rhabdomysarcoma:

  • Embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS) is most common in the head and neck, genital organs, or urinary organs, but can occur anywhere in the body. It is the most common type of rhabdomyosarcoma.
  • Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) occurs most often in chest, arms and legs.
  • Anaplastic rhabdomyosarcoma is the least common type of rhabdomyosarcoma in children.

What are the risk factors for rhabdomyosarcoma?

Very few risk factors have been identified. Large size for gestational age and high birth weight may be linked to an increased risk.

What can you do to prevent rhabdomyosarcoma?

Because most known risk factors are not preventable, there are no recommended preventive measures. Some children with risk factors may benefit from genetic testing to determine specific risk.

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