Treatments for Rhabdomyosarcoma
Rhabdomyosarcoma can occur anywhere in your child’s body, and close coordination between surgeons, pediatric oncologists, hematologists, and radiation oncologists is essential for designing the most efficient treatment program. When Sheba’s doctors customize treatment for your child’s RMS, they consider the stage, location, and type of the cancer, along with how other organs in the body are functioning.
Treatment options at Sheba for RMS include:
Surgical removal of the tumor is often the first step, unless it is already clear that the cancer has spread to distant places in the body. While complete surgical resection of RMS is not generally possible, surgery can provide our doctors with a comprehensive diagnosis of the tumor type and stage. Most children with RMS will undergo two kinds of surgery: the biopsy and removal of the tumor. Surgery is typically performed in combination with other treatments, and sometimes chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy are administered before surgery to try to shrink the tumor.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy cancer cells, and it can be a part of the treatment program for children with RMS. For this cancer, it is usually given along with chemotherapy. Our radiation oncologists have specialized techniques to determine the dose and volume of radiation so that it provides maximum benefits with minimal long-term effects for the overall health of the child.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Because these drugs enter the bloodstream, they reach all areas of the body – making chemotherapy very effective for treating cancers that spread widely. Chemo is an important part of the treatment program for children with rhabdomyosarcoma. Even if it appears that surgery was able to remove the entire tumor, without chemotherapy RMS is likely to recur. But chemo can destroy any tiny deposits of RMS that are still in the body. If large amounts of tumor are left after surgery, chemotherapy can be used to help shrink these areas. Generally, a combination of various chemo drugs is used to treat RMS in children.
Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to identify and destroy cancer cells without damaging normal healthy cells. Certain targeted drugs are already being used to treat RMS. In particular, doctors are investigating whether adding the targeted drug temsirolimus to the chemotherapy regimen may boost its effectiveness.
Bone marrow/stem cell transplant
During this procedure, diseased bone marrow cells are replaced by specialized stem cells that grow and restore the body’s normal blood cells. RMS can be complex to treat, so doctors may use more intense chemotherapy doses followed by stem cell transplant. Stem cell transplantation enables much higher doses of chemo drugs to be given.
Holistic Treatments at Sheba Medical Center
As we treat RMS in children, our supportive medical team treats the whole child. Promoting a high quality of life is an essential component of our world-class medicine with a personal touch. Coping with cancer is challenging, and we strive to provide therapies that are as comfortable and efficient as possible. Our holistic healthcare includes a full range of services for children and their families, including social workers, psychologists, nutrition counseling, and alternative therapies.