“Childhood cancer is considered a rare cancer when compared to adult cancers. Rhabdomyosarcoma is definitely a childhood cancer tumour where we need to make progress. We urgently need something in the way of new treatments – a new way to deal with this terrible disease.” 
- Dr Geoff McCowage, Paediatric Oncologist, Senior Staff Specialist at The Children’s Hospital Westmead 

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a cancerous tumour that originates in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, tendons, and connective tissues.

There are two main types of RMS, embryonal and alveolar.

Embryonal tumours occur predominantly in the head and or neck region or in the bladder or genital area.

Alveolar tumours occur in large muscles of the chest, abdomen, arms and legs. They are usually fast growing and require more intense treatment.

​Rhabdomyosarcoma accounts for around 50 per cent of all childhood sarcomas and around 5 per cent of all childhood cancers.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is very rare, on average there are only 17 cases per year. 

More than 50 per cent of rhabdomyosarcomas are diagnosed in children under the age of 10 but can also affect adolescents.

The cause of rhabdomyosarcoma is unknown, it develops in most cases sporadically, with no known risk factors. Source: National Cancer Institute.

The survival rates depend on where the tumour is located and if the cancer has spread. If the disease hasn’t spread, five-year survival rates are around 70 - 80 per cent.

·       Surgery
·       Chemotherapy
·       Radiation therapy


Egas-Bejar and Huh, Adolesc Health Med Ther. 2014; 5: 115–125.
St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, www.stjude.org Rhabdomyosarcoma, 2016
St Baldrick’s, www.stbaldricks.org Types of Childhood Cancer: Rhabdomyosarcoma, 2016
American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org Types of Childhood Cancer: Rhabdomyosarcoma, 2016
Sarcoma Help Organisation, www.sarcomahelp.org Rhabdomyosarcoma, 2016
Cancer Research UK, www.cancerresearchuk.org Rhabdomyosarcoma, 2016
Cancer Council QLD, 2010, Childhood Cancer Survival in Australia. 1995 – 2004
Cancer Council QLD, 2009, Childhood Cancer Incidence in Australia. 1983 – 2006
NCI http://www.cancer.gov/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/hp/rhabdomyosarcoma-treatment-pdq

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