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Cancer. 1997 Oct 15;80(8):1513-7.

Chest wall rhabdomyosarcoma.

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  • 1Department of Pediatric Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in the pediatric age group. The primary tumor site is an important prognostic determinant. Axial lesions are associated with decreased survival and provide a clinical challenge.


A retrospective analysis of the authors' institutional experience between 1972 and 1996 was performed. Patients were from a data base of 302 consecutive cases.


Fifteen consecutive patients with chest wall rhabdomyosarcoma were identified. The median age was 16 years (range, 6 months-25 years). Median follow-up was 6.6 years (range, 10 months-18.5 years). Nine patients presented with a mass, six with pain, two with respiratory distress, and one with ulnar neuropathy. The median lesion size was 7 cm (range, 3-16 cm). A surgical procedure was the initial therapy for 13 of 15 patients. Fourteen patients received radiation therapy with a median dose of 4400 cGy. All but one were included in institutional-based trials using multiagent chemotherapy. At last follow-up, 10 patients were alive and disease free, with a median survival of 123 months (range, 51-221 months). Seven of ten survivors underwent a complete resection as their initial therapy. There was no surgical mortality, and only two patients had treatment-related complications. Of the five patients who died, two underwent complete resection as their initial therapy. All five patients had invasive tumors. Four were > 10 cm, 3 were of alveolar subtype, and 2 were embryonal.


Complete resection of chest wall rhabdomyosarcoma is recommended. However, survival is possible for patients with microscopically positive surgical margins with the addition of chemotherapy and radiation.

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