Rhabdomyosarcoma That Progresses or Recurs After Initial Treatment

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) that continues to grow during treatment or that comes back once treatment is finished is often hard to treat. The treatment options will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Where the cancer comes back
  • The type of RMS
  • Which treatments were used previously
  • The patient's age and overall health

For tumors that recur in the same spot as the original tumor, surgery may be used if it can be done. If radiation therapy wasn’t part of the initial treatment, it may be used as well.

In rare cases, surgery may be used for cancers that recur in other parts of the body, such as if there is a small recurrence in a lung. Radiation therapy might be another option here as well.

Most often, chemotherapy is the best option if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. This might include some of the drugs listed in Chemotherapy for Rhabdomyosarcoma, as well as newer drugs now being studied.

Because these tumors are often hard to treat, clinical trials of newer treatments may be a good option in many cases.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

National Cancer Institute. Childhood Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment (PDQ®). 2018. Accessed at
www.cancer.gov/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/hp/rhabdomyosarcoma-treatment-pdq on June 4, 2018.

Okcu MF, Hicks J. Rhabdomyosarcoma in childhood and adolescence: Treatment. UpToDate. Accessed at www.uptodate.com/contents/rhabdomyosarcoma-in-childhood-adolescence-and-adulthood-treatment on June 4, 2018.

Wexler LH, Skapek SX, Helman LJ. Chapter 31: Rhabdomyosarcoma. In: Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016.

Last Medical Review: July 16, 2018 Last Revised: July 16, 2018

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