Rhabdomyosarcoma - Childhood: After Treatment

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about your child’s medical care after cancer treatment is finished and why this follow-up care is important. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

After treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma ends, talk with your child’s doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests to monitor your child’s recovery for the coming months and years. All children treated for cancer, including rhabdomyosarcoma, should have life-long, follow-up care.

Children treated for rhabdomyosarcoma should be monitored for signs that the cancer has come back. If there is a recurrence, it is most common within the first three years after diagnosis. During this time, routine monitoring should include regular physical examinations and imaging studies at least every three to six months for the first two years after completing treatment.

Based on the type of treatment your child received, the doctor will also determine what examinations and tests are needed to check for long-term side effects of the treatment. Children should be routinely monitored for growth patterns, development of sexual maturity and fertility, and bladder function. If your child received radiation therapy to the eye or mouth, regular eye examinations and dental examinations are important. Children who had a tumor on an arm or leg may have decreased growth in the affected limb and differences in limb length as the child ages. This should be watched closely, and an evaluation by an orthopedist (bone doctor) is recommended if this develops. Long-term side effects also include the possibility of a secondary cancer, such as bone sarcoma, a brain tumor, or acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Your child’s doctor can recommend the necessary screening tests depending on the therapy your child received. Follow-up care should also address your child’s quality of life, including any developmental or emotional concerns. Learn more about childhood cancer survivorship.

Your family is encouraged to organize and keep a record of the child’s medical information. That way, as the child enters adulthood, it’s important that he or she has a clear, written history of the diagnosis, the treatment given, and the doctor’s recommendations about the schedule for follow-up care. The doctor’s office can help you create this. This information will be valuable to doctors who care for your child during his or her lifetime. ASCO offers cancer treatment summary forms to help keep track of the cancer treatment your child received and develop a survivorship care plan once treatment is completed.

Children who have had cancer can also enhance the quality of their future by following established guidelines for good health into and through adulthood, including not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and participating in regular physical activity. Talk with the doctor about developing a plan that is best for your child’s needs. Learn more about the next steps to take in survivorship.

The next section offers a list of questions you may want to ask. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Questions to Ask the Doctor, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.