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Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a type of sarcoma - a cancer that forms in the bones and connective tissues. More common in children and teenagers than adults, rhabdomyosarcoma affects the cells that create skeletal muscles (rhabdomyoblasts) and facilitate physical movement.

What are the symptoms of rhabdomyosarcoma?

The symptoms of rhabdomyosarcoma largely depend on where it originates in the body. Cancer that begins in the arms or legs may cause:

  • Limb swelling or a noticeable lump
  • Localized pain
  • Redness

If rhabdomyosarcoma develops in the head or neck area, symptoms may include:

  • Eyes that appear swollen, bulged or crossed
  • Vision changes
  • Sinus congestion
  • Headache
  • Earache
  • Nosebleeds

Rhabdomyosarcoma in the urinary or reproductive system can cause:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Rectal bleeding or unusual vaginal bleeding
  • A mass that can be seen or felt

Rhabdomyosarcoma that occurs in the abdomen or pelvis may lead to:

  • Belly pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation

The size of the tumor and whether it has spread to other areas of the body will also impact symptoms. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare disease, but individuals whose symptoms persist for more than a few days should speak with a physician.

How is rhabdomyosarcoma treated?

Recent advancements in rhabdomyosarcoma treatment have significantly improved the outlook for patients with this cancer. Even so, diagnosis at an early stage is key to achieving a successful outcome and positive quality of life. Early detection is especially important for adult patients, as rhabdomyosarcoma that develops in adulthood is often more difficult to treat.

Many rhabdomyosarcoma treatment plans include surgery to remove as much cancer as possible and chemotherapy or radiation therapy to attack cancer cells throughout the body or in a targeted area.

Our approach to rhabdomyosarcoma

Moffitt Cancer Center offers comprehensive diagnostics and progressive treatment options to patients with rhabdomyosarcoma and other types of sarcoma. The experts in our Sarcoma Program create ambitious, multispecialty treatment plans for each patient and possess a unique level of experience treating complex and uncommon diseases like rhabdomyosarcoma. Additionally, Moffitt leads a trailblazing clinical trial program that gives eligible patients the opportunity to experience the latest breakthroughs in treatment before they are made widely available.

Contact Moffitt at 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online if you would like to speak with a physician about rhabdomyosarcoma symptoms or treatment options.