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The term rhabdomyosarcoma was first used by Weber in 1854.

This is a highly malignant "small round blue cell tumor" thought to arise in mesenchymal progenitor tissue for striated muscle.  However this tumor often arises in areas where there is no striated muscle.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in children.

  • 4-8% of all malignant disease in children less than 15 years old. 
  • Third most common extracranial solid tumor in childhood, after neuroblastoma and Wilms tumor.
  • Incidence is about 5 per million in white children (less frequent in black children). 
  • Bimodal age distribution with two peaks: 2-6 years and a smaller incidence peak at 15-19 years.

The overall survival rate has increased from about 20% to 70% since the 1960s.  Much of this improvement has been due to work done in the Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) Studies (IRS).  See IRS Studies.


Globe and Mail article about a little girl with rhabdomyosarcoma:

From a child with cancer, a lesson in living










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