Skip to Main Content

Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment

Also called childhood rhabdomyosarcoma, embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, or alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of cancerous tumor that develops in soft tissue, such as muscles. But it can occur anywhere in the body.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma in children. About 350 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. More than 70% of children with rhabdomyosarcoma that has not spread survive long-term.

Find out more about rhabdomyosarcoma and other soft tissue sarcomas on the Together by St. Jude™ online resource.

Treatment of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Surgery is used to biopsy the tumor. A small piece is removed and examined in the lab to help diagnose your child’s disease. Then the surgeon may remove as much of the tumor as possible.

Chemotherapy (“chemo”) is given to all rhabdomyosarcoma patients after surgery. Chemotherapy uses powerful medicines to kill cancer cells or stop them from spreading.

Radiation therapy may be used to treat these tumors. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.

Rhabdomyosarcoma clinical trials

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital offers clinical trials and cancer research studies for children, teens, and young adults with rhabdomyosarcoma.

Learn more about clinical trials at St. Jude.

ONITT: Study of Onivyde with Talazoparib or Temozolomide in Children and Young Adults with Recurrent/Refractory Solid Tumors and Ewing Sarcoma

Study goal:

The main goal of this study is to test new experimental drugs in hopes of finding a treatment that may work against tumors that have come back or that have not responded to standard therapy in children, adolescents and young adults.


12 months to 30 years old

3CAR: B7-H3-specific CAR T-cell Therapy for Children and Young Adults with Solid Tumors

Study goal:

The main purpose of 3CAR is to find out if this type of immunotherapy is safe for pediatric patients with solid tumors. We also want to learn if it is effective in fighting solid tumors.


Up to 21 years old

ARST2032: Very Low-Risk and Low-Risk Rhabdomyosarcoma Study

Study goal:

Compare the effects of giving less chemotherapy drugs to people with VLR-RMS, who do not have the MYOD1 or TP53 mutation, to find out which is better; to find out how well people with LR-RMS, without MYOD1 or TP53 mutations, respond to standard chemotherapy, and to see the effects of giving chemotherapy drugs for a longer amount of time. We want to see if patients with RMS and the MYOD1 or TP53 mutation benefit from longer therapy than the shorter treatment we give to VLR or LR patients.


Up to 21 years old

PAINBDY1: Treating Pain in Children with Cancer: Pain Buddy

Study goal:

The main goal of this research study is to help us learn how to better treat pain and symptoms in children going through chemotherapy cancer treatment.


8 to 18 years old

RMS2021: Using Molecular Risk Stratification and Liposomal Irinotecan in Children with Intermediate-risk and High-risk Rhabdomyosarcoma

Study goal:

To find the most effective treatment for each risk group of rhabdomyosarcoma patients


Up to 21 years old

Rhabdomyosarcoma care at St. Jude

St. Jude provides the highest quality of care for patients with rhabdomyosarcoma:

  • A study by St. Jude and Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project study found drugs that killed rhabdomyosarcoma tumor cells growing in the lab. These drugs may help chemotherapy work better. The study also found that 2 types of rhabdomyosarcomas have different genetic causes (DNA changes). This helps scientists understand why tumors sometimes come back after treatment. More research is planned to look at this more closely.
  • St. Jude researchers are using a new combination of drugs after all therapy has been finished. They want to see if this new combination can improve the survival of children with high-risk features.
  • The St. Jude medical team is using new types of imaging such as diffusion-weighted MRI to see how tumors respond to treatment.
  • St. Jude scientists are trying to find the most effective treatment with the least amount of therapy that will cure children with low-risk rhabdomyosarcoma.
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma treatment at St. Jude may involve proton therapy. St. Jude has the world’s first proton therapy center dedicated solely to the treatment of children. Proton therapy can deliver high radiation doses directly to tumors. This treatment spares normal tissues and reduces the side effects of traditional x-ray therapy. Because it is so precise, proton therapy reduces a child’s risk of having serious side effects, including other cancers later in life.

More reasons to choose St. Jude for care include:

  • We are consistently ranked among the best childhood cancer centers in the nation by US News & World Report. 
  • At St. Jude, we have created an environment where children can be children and families can be together.  
  • We lead more clinical trials for childhood cancer than any other hospital in the U.S.  
  • St. Jude is the only National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Center just for children. A Comprehensive Cancer Center meets rigorous standards for research that develops new and better approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. 
  • The nurse-to-patient ratio at St. Jude is about 1:3 in hematology and oncology and 1:1 in the Intensive Care Unit. 
  • Patients may be able to get expert, compassionate care and treatment closer to their homes through the St. Jude Affiliate Program. 
A statue of children running and holding hands

Seeking treatment at St. Jude

Patients accepted to St. Jude must have a disease we treat and must be referred by a physician or other qualified medical professional. We accept most patients based on their ability to enroll in an open clinical trial.

How to seek treatment

Contact the Physician / Patient Referral Office

Call: 1-888-226-4343 (toll-free) or 901-595-4055 (local)  | Fax: 901-595-4011 | Email: | 24-hour pager: 1-800-349-4334

The solid tumor coordinator is dedicated to helping you seek treatment or refer a patient.

Solid Tumor Coordinator


Learn more