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Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of cancer. It starts in cells that grow into skeletal muscle cells. The cells are called rhabdomyoblasts. Skeletal muscles control all of a person’s voluntary muscle movements. The cancer is most common in children under age 10, but it is rare. It can form anywhere in the body. The most common places are:
There are 2 main types of rhabdomyosarcoma:
Some health conditions that are passed down through families (genetic) increase a child's risk. These include:
Symptoms depend on the location and the size and of the tumor. There may be no symptoms until the tumor is very large. The main symptom may be a lump or swelling that may be painful. Other symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child.
A growth near the eye can cause:
A growth in the ear or sinuses can cause:
A growth in the urinary or reproductive organs can cause:
A growth in the abdomen can cause:
Symptoms of advanced rhabdomyosarcoma may include:
The symptoms of rhabdomyosarcoma can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your child's healthcare provider will ask about your child's health history and symptoms. He or she will examine your child. Your child may be referred to a child cancer specialist (pediatric oncologist). Your child may have tests such as:
Part of diagnosing cancer is called staging. Staging is the process of seeing if the cancer has spread, and where it has spread. Staging also helps to decide the treatment. There are different ways of staging cancer, but most range from stage 1 to stage 4. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the stage of your child's cancer and what it means.
Treatment will depend on the location, stage, and other factors. The cancer can be treated with any of the below:
With any cancer, how well a child is expected to recover (prognosis) varies. Keep in mind:
A child may have complications from the tumor or from treatment. They may include:
A child with rhabdomyosarcoma needs ongoing care. Your child will be seen by oncologists and other healthcare providers to treat any late effects of treatment and to watch for signs or symptoms of the tumor returning. Your child will be checked with imaging tests and other tests. And your child may see other healthcare providers for problems from the tumor or from treatment. For example, your child may see an eye doctor (ophthalmologist) for vision problems.
Your child may need therapy to help with movement and muscle strength. This may be done by physical and occupational therapists. If your child's speech is affected, he or she may need help from a speech therapist. Your child may also need the help of other therapists for learning or emotional problems.
You can help your child manage his or her treatment in many ways. For example:
Call the healthcare provider if your child has:
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