Rhabdomyosarcoma - Childhood: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2021

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the number of children and teens who are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors. Use the menu to see other pages.

About 400 to 500 people are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma each year. Most people who are diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma are children or teens. More than half of childhood rhabdomyosarcomas are diagnosed in those under age 10. Each year in the United States, rhabdomyosarcoma accounts for 3% of cancers in children ages 0 to 14 and 1% of cancers in teens ages 15 to 19. It is the most common soft-tissue sarcoma in children. Boys are slightly more likely to develop the disease than girls.

The 5-year survival rate tells you what percent of children and teens live at least 5 years after the cancer is found. Percent means how many out of 100. The 5-year survival rate for children younger than 15 is 70% overall. The 5-year survival rate for teens ages 15 to 19 is 46%.

However, the survival rate varies widely depending on the tumor location, stage and risk group, and the child’s age. Children ages 1 to 9 have a better prognosis than people in other age groups. The 5-year survival rate for children who have low-risk rhabdomyosarcoma ranges from 70% to more than 90%. The 5-year survival rate for children in the intermediate-risk group ranges from about 50% to 70%. When the cancer becomes high risk, spreading widely in the body, the 5-year survival rate ranges from 20% to 30%.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for children and teens with rhabdomyosarcoma are an estimate. The estimate comes from annual data based on the number of children and teens with this cancer in the United States. Also, experts measure the survival rate every 5 years. So the estimate may not show the results of better diagnosis or treatment available for less than 5 years. Talk with your child’s doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society website and Seigel R, et al.: Cancer Statistics 2021. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2021 Jan; 71(1):7-33. doi/full/10.3322/caac.21654 (sources accessed February 2021.)

The next section in this guide is Medical Illustrations. It offers drawings of body parts often affected by rhabdomyosarcoma. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.