Staging Rhabdomyosarcoma

Staging systems provide doctors with a common language for describing tumors. After rhabdomyosarcoma is diagnosed, a series of tests are used to investigate the extent of the cancer and to see whether it has spread to other parts of the body from where it started.

Staging is a way of recording the size, aggressiveness and growth of a cancer, and determining the plan for treatment. By understanding the stage of your cancer, you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

Staging rhabdomyosarcoma attempts to discover the following:

  • The size of the tumor
  • Whether the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and tissues
  • Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

Stages of Rhabdomyosarcoma

Doctors use diagnostic tests to determine the cancer's stage, so staging may not be complete until all the tests are finished. In rhabdomyosarcoma, staging is broken down into four stages and four groups.

Stage 1

Tumor is any size, and has not spread to lymph nodes. Tumor can be found in one of the following (only):

  • Eye area
  • Head and neck
  • Gallbladder
  • Testes, vagina or uterus

Stage 2

Tumor is found in any other area not included in Stage 1 and has not spread to lymph nodes. Tumor is no larger than 5 cm.

Stage 3

Tumor is found in any area not included in Stage 1 and:

  • Is not larger than 5 cm and has spread to lymph nodes.
  • Is larger than 5 cm, and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 4

Tumor is any size and has spread to other organs, tissues or body parts.

Rhabdomyosarcoma is also grouped. Your group depends on if the cancer has spread, and if the cancer was able to be surgically removed.

Group I

Cancer was only found in one place, and was removed completely during surgery.

Group II

In this group, your cancer is either:

  • IIA: Removed by surgery, but cancer was found in the margins of tissue (area surrounding where tumor was removed).
  • IIB: Spread to nearby lymph nodes, which were removed during surgery.
  • IIC: Spread to nearby lymph nodes and cancer cells were found in the margins. (IIA and IIB)

Group III

Only part of the cancer was removed via surgery or biopsy.

Group IV

Cancer has spread to distant parts of the body from where the cancer was initially diagnosed.

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