Rhabdomyosarcoma is a cancerous tumor that grows in the body's soft tissues (which connect, support, or surround organs and other body structures), particularly in the muscles that attach to bone and help the body to move. Just weeks into the life of a developing embryo, rhabdomyoblast cells (which grow into muscle over time) begin to form. These are the cells that can develop into rhabdomyosarcoma.

  • Because this is a cancer of embryonal cells, it is much more common in children, although it can occur in adults.
  • Rhabdomyosarcomas are most often located in the head, neck, bladder, vagina, arms, legs, and trunk.
  • These tumors can also be found in places where skeletal muscles are absent or very small, such as the prostate, middle ear, or bile duct system.

Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

Children with rhabdomyosarcoma are treated through our Bone & Soft Tissue Tumor Program. Because rhabdomyosarcoma can develop anywhere in a child’s body and will require surgery as part of treatment, it is important that your child be treated at a center that offers surgical expertise in the part of the body where your child’s tumor appears. At Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s we have urology, gynecology, head and neck, and general surgeons who have specialized expertise in treating these types of tumors in children.

Learn more

Find in-depth details on rhabdomyosarcoma on the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s website, including answers to:

  • How is rhabdomyosarcoma diagnosed?
  • What is the best treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma?
  • What is the latest research on rhabdomyosarcoma?
  • What is the long-term outlook for children with rhabdomyosarcoma?