May 16, 2023
This week we will discuss an extremely rare type of cancer that is most often associated with younger children. When it affects adults it is more difficult to treat. Our guest this week is Wilder McNemar. Wilder has a decent following on TikTok which is where I found him. You can follow him here: https://www.tiktok.com/@queerpple?lang=en
A Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of soft tissue sarcoma. A sarcoma is a tumor that starts in the supporting tissues (connective tissues) of the body - for example, bone, muscle, fat, cartilage and ligaments.
Rhabdomyosarcomas grow in the muscles of the body. Rhabdomyosarcoma can occur anywhere in the body.
There are three types of rhabdomyosarcoma which affect different age groups:
Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS)
This most often affects young children, usually under the age of 6 years. It most often occurs in the head and neck region, especially in the tissues around the eye (called an orbital rhabdomyosarcoma). Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma may also occur in the womb, vagina, bladder or the prostate gland. One type of Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma is called sarcoma botryoides, which looks like a bunch of grapes and most often occurs in the vagina or bladder.
Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcomas usually spread to surrounding tissues. However, the outcome (prognosis) is usually very good and most children with Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma are cured of the cancer.
This tends to occur in older children and young adults. Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcomas (also called ARMS) most often occur in the arms and legs, chest or tummy (abdomen). This is the type Wilder is working with.
ARMS typically affects all age groups equally. It makes up a larger portion of RMS in older children, teens, and adults than in younger children (because ERMS is less common at older ages).
ARMS most often occurs in large muscles of the trunk, arms, and legs.
ARMS tends to grow faster than ERMS, and it usually requires more intense treatment. However, in some cases of ARMS, the cancer cells lack certain gene changes, which makes these cancers act more like ERMS (and allows doctors to give less intense treatment).
This tends to occur in middle-aged adults. It is usually treated with chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy but treatment is not as effective as for other types of Rhabdomyosarcoma.
We will keep Wilder in our thoughts and prayers and if you are interested in making a donation, there's a link on Wilder's TikTok account: https://www.tiktok.com/@queerpple?lang=en .