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What Is Rhabdomyosarcoma? TOPICS

What are the key statistics about rhabdomyosarcoma?

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) accounts for about 3% of all childhood cancers. About 350 new cases of RMS occur each year in the United States. The number of new cases has not changed much over the past few decades.

Most rhabdomyosarcomas are diagnosed in children and teens, with more than half being diagnosed in children younger than 10 years old. These tumors are usually embryonal rhabdomyosarcomas (ERMS) and tend to develop in the head and neck area or in the genital and urinary tracts. Alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) affects all age groups and is found more often in the arms, legs, or trunk.

RMS is slightly more common in boys than in girls. No particular race or ethnic group seems to have an unusually high rate of RMS.

The prognosis (outlook) for people with RMS depends on many factors, including the type of RMS, the location and size of the tumor, the results of surgery, and whether the cancer has metastasized (spread). Children aged 1 to 9 tend to have a better outlook than infants or older children or adults. Statistics related to survival are discussed in the section, “Survival rates for rhabdomyosarcoma by risk group.”

Last Medical Review: 08/13/2013
Last Revised: 08/13/2013