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Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Options for Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma


Rhabdomyosarcoma of the kidney

  • Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

Rhabdomyosarcoma of the bladder and prostate

  • For tumors that are only at the top of the bladder: Surgery (wide local excision) is done.
  • For tumors of the prostate or bladder (other than the top of the bladder):
    • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are given first to shrink the tumor. If cancer cells remain after chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the tumor is removed by surgery. Surgery may include removal of the prostate, part of the bladder, or pelvic exenteration without removal of the rectum. (This may include removal of the lower colon and bladder. In girls, the cervix, vagina, ovaries, and nearby lymph nodes may be removed).
    • Chemotherapy is given first to shrink the tumor. Surgery to remove the tumor, but not the bladder or prostate, is done. Internal radiation therapy is given after surgery.

Rhabdomyosarcoma of the area near the testicles

  • Rhabdomyosarcoma of the testicular area is usually treated with surgery to remove the testicle and spermatic cord.
  • The lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen may be checked for cancer, especially if the lymph nodes are enlarged or the child is older than 9 years. Radiation therapy may be given if the tumor cannot be completely removed by surgery. CT scans may be done every 3 months after surgery to see if the cancer is growing in nearby lymph nodes.

Rhabdomyosarcoma of the vulva, vagina, uterus or ovary

  • For tumors of the vulva and vagina: Treatment may include chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove the tumor. Internal or external radiation therapy may be given after surgery.
  • For tumors of the uterus: Treatment may include chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy. Sometimes surgery may be needed to remove any remaining cancer cells.
  • For tumors of the cervix: Treatment may include chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove any remaining tumor.
  • For tumors of the ovary: Treatment may include combination chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove any remaining tumor.

Metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma

  • Radiation therapy may be given for tumors that have spread to the brain, spinal cord, or lungs.

    Treatment is also given to the site where the tumor first formed.

Some of the treatments being studied for rhabdomyosarcoma include the following:

  • A clinical trial of a new schedule of combination chemotherapy with radiation therapy.
  • A clinical trial of new combinations of anticancer drugs, with and without targeted therapy (monoclonal antibody).
  • A clinical trial of immunotherapy.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with previously untreated childhood rhabdomyosarcoma. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.


WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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