Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information


Incidence and Epidemiology

Childhood rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue malignant tumor of mesenchymal origin, accounts for approximately 3.5% of the cases of cancer among children aged 0 to 14 years and 2% of the cases among adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 19 years.[3,4] The incidence is 4.5 per 1 million children and 50% of cases are seen in the first decade of life.[5]

Incidence may depend on the histologic subtype of rhabdomyosarcoma:

  • Embryonal: Patients with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma are predominantly male (M:F = 1.5) and peaks in the 0 to 4 year age group at approximately 4 cases per 1 million children, with a lower rate in adolescents, approximately 1.5 cases per 1 million adolescents.[5]
  • Alveolar: The incidence of alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma does not vary by gender and is constant from ages 0 to 19 years at approximately 1 case per 1 million children and adolescents.[5]
  • Undifferentiated sarcoma: Infants younger than 1 year have a higher incidence of undifferentiated sarcoma and tumors of the trunk and abdomen and a lower incidence of parameningeal tumors than do older patients.[6]

The most common primary sites for rhabdomyosarcoma are the head, the genitourinary tract, and the extremities.[7,8] Within extremity tumors, tumors of the hand and foot occur more often in older patients and have an alveolar histology; these tumors also have a higher rate of metastatic spread.[9] Other less common primary sites include the trunk, chest wall, perineal/anal region, and abdomen including the retroperitoneum and biliary tract.

Most cases of rhabdomyosarcoma occur sporadically, with no recognized predisposing factor or risk factor.[10] For patients with embryonal tumors, high birth weight and large size for gestational age are associated with an increased incidence of rhabdomyosarcoma.[11] Genetic conditions associated with rhabdomyosarcoma include Li-Fraumeni cancer susceptibility syndrome (with germline p53 mutations),[12,13,14] pleuropulmonary blastoma (with DICER1 mutations),[15,16] neurofibromatosis type I,[17] Costello syndrome (with germline HRAS mutations),[18,19,20,21] Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (with which Wilms tumor and hepatoblastoma are more commonly associated),[22,23] and Noonan syndrome.[21,24,25]

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas