Pictured: Michael LaQuaglia, Paul Meyers & Leonard Wexler

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare childhood cancer that begins in muscles. Any muscle in the body can be involved. Pain and swelling are the most common symptoms of this disease. Most children with rhabdomyosarcoma are cured.

In general, sarcomas are cancers in bones, muscles, and connective tissue throughout the body. They can affect children, adolescents, and young adults, even up to age 40. There are several types of pediatric sarcomas, including rhabdomyosarcoma.

There are two main types of rhabdomyosarcoma. The more common type is called embryonal, and it’s found in the head and neck or genital and urinary organs. The other form, alveolar, is more rare. It’s found in the arms, legs, chest, abdomen, genitals, or anal area. The type of treatment that’s best for patients depends on the kind of rhabdomyosarcoma they have.

Some genetic conditions put a person at higher risk for rhabdomyosarcoma, but in most cases, the cause of this cancer is unknown. It is slightly more common in boys than in girls, and often occurs before a child turns five.

Each year, about 350 children, adolescents, and young adults are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. Our team of experts treats more than 25 newly diagnosed patients each year, through conventional therapies and clinical trials.