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Rhabdomyosarcoma Definition

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare form of cancer of the sarcoma (or connective tissues) commonly occurring in children ages 1 to 5 and, in some cases, teenagers ages 15 to 19. The malignant cells are believed to originate from skeletal muscle progenitors. The cancer may also attach itself to muscle tissues, wrap around intestines, or affect any other areas. The cancerous mass may resemble a 6-8 week old embryo in younger children. In teens and older children, the cancer may be as large as a 10-12 week old embryo.

Rhabdomyosarcoma Diagnosis

Suspicion of rhabdomyosarcoma will prompt a physician to perform blood, muscle, and marrow tests to confirm diagnosis. In particular, the myo D1 protein works as a significant immunohistochemical marker. Its absence often indicates the presence of this type of cancer.

Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are common modes of treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma. Surgery to remove the malignant tumor has proven to be very difficult, since the offending mass is usually embedded deep within the tissue and therefore difficult to reach. However, if possible, surgery is often recommended to remove the malignancy. In cases where rhabdomyosarcoma manifests in the extremities, amputation may be necessitated to improve prognosis.

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