Every child treated for rhabdomyosarcoma should receive chemotherapy to decrease the chance the cancer will recur. The type of chemotherapy agent, dose, and the number of treatments given depends on whether the child has low-risk, intermediate-risk, or high-risk rhabdomyosarcoma.
See Drugs Approved for Rhabdomyosarcoma for more information.
New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.
This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant is a way of giving high doses of chemotherapy and replacing blood -forming cells destroyed by the cancer treatment. Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored. After the chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body's blood cells.
Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biologic therapy or biotherapy.
Targeted therapy is a treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells. Targeted therapy with angiogenesis inhibitors is being studied to treat childhood rhabdomyosarcoma. Angiogenesis inhibitors keep blood vessels from forming in a tumor. This causes the tumor to starve and stop growing or to shrink. Monoclonal antibodies and kinase inhibitors are two types of antiangiogenic agents used in clinical trials for childhood rhabdomyosarcoma.
Monoclonal antibody therapy uses antibodies made in the laboratory, from a single type of immune system cell. These antibodies can identify substances on cancer cells or normal substances that may help cancer cells grow. The antibodies attach to the substances and kill the cancer cells, block their growth, or keep them from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion. They may be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies used in clinical trials for childhood rhabdomyosarcoma attach to and block substances that cause new blood vessels to form in tumors. Monoclonal antibodies may be used with chemotherapy as adjuvant therapy.
Kinase inhibitors stop cells from dividing and may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow.
Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.