Cancers that develop in children - Rhabdomyosarcoma
Rhabdomyosarcoma, or RMS, is an aggressive and highly malignant form of cancer that develops from skeletal (striated) muscle cells that have failed to fully differentiate. It is generally considered to be a disease of childhood, as the vast majority of cases occur in those below the age of 18. It is commonly described as one of the "small, round, blue cell tumours of childhood" due to its appearance on an H&E stain. Despite being a relatively rare cancer, it accounts for approximately 40% of all recorded soft tissue sarcomas.
RMS can occur in any site on the body, but is primarily found in the head, neck, orbit, genitourinary tract, genitals, and extremities. Signs and symptoms vary according to tumor site, and prognosis is closely tied to the location of the primary tumor. Common site of metastasis include the lungs, bone marrow, and bones.
Patient outcomes vary considerably, with 5 years survival rates between 35% and 95% depending on the type of RMS involved, so clear diagnosis is critical for effective treatment and management. Treatment usually involves a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.