What Is RMS Disease?

Reviewed on 5/17/2021

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS)
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a rare, highly aggressive type of cancerous tumor that forms in the soft tissue, usually in the skeletal muscle tissue. It is generally considered a childhood disease because the vast majority of cases occur in people under 18 years of age.

Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a rare, highly aggressive type of cancerous tumor that forms in the soft tissue, usually in the skeletal muscle tissue. 

While RMS can start nearly in any part of the body, the most common sites include the head and neck, urinary and reproductive organs, arms, legs, chest, and abdomen. It is generally considered a childhood disease because the vast majority of cases occur in people under 18 years of age.

What are the different types of rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS)?

RMS develops from the immature cells that have failed to fully differentiate into myocytes of the skeletal muscles. The main types of RMS are: 

  • Embryonal RMS
    • Most common of all types
    • Occurs in the head and neck area or genital or urinary organs.
  • Alveolar RMS
    • Most common in teenagers
    • Occurs in the arms, legs, chest, abdomen, or genital area
  • Botryoid RMS
    • Type of embryonal RMS 
    • Accounts for about 5%-10% of all RMS cases
    • Occurs most often in children between the ages of 0-15 years
  • Pleomorphic RMS
    • Affects the arms, legs, or trunk
    • Usually occurs in adults and rarely in children

What are signs and symptoms of RMS?

Signs and symptoms of RMS depend on the location of cancer:

Head or neck area

Urinary or reproductive system

Arms or legs

  • Swelling or a lump in the arm or leg
  • Pain in the affected area, although sometimes there is no pain

How is RMS diagnosed?

Your doctor will make a diagnosis of RMS after analyzing your medical history, symptoms, and results of your physical exam. They may also order additional tests to confirm the diagnosis, including:

How is RMS treated?

Treatment of RMS depends on what stage the cancer is in and whether it has spread to other parts of the body.  Generally, treatment may include one or more of the following:

  • Chemotherapy: Medications are injected into the bloodstream to kill the cancer cells or stop them from dividing and spreading. Most children with RMS undergo chemotherapy to reduce the chance of cancer coming back.
  • Surgery: Surgical removal, also called excision, is done in most RMS cases and involves cutting a part of or all the tumor and some tissue around it.
  • Radiation: Radiation therapy involves using beams of intense energy (usually high-energy X-rays) to kill the cancer cells or slow their growth.
  • Palliative care: Palliative care, also called supportive care, can be used to treat symptoms and medication side effects.

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References
https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/873546-overview

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