Rhabdoid Tumor

Also known as: malignant rhabdoid tumor, MRT

What are rhabdoid tumors?

A rhabdoid tumor is a fast-growing cancer that most commonly affects infants and young children. This rare cancer most frequently develops in the body’s soft tissues, the kidneys or the brain and spinal cord.

What causes rhabdoid tumors?

Like most forms of cancer, rhabdoid tumors develop due to changes in a cell’s DNA. What specifically causes these changes to occur isn’t clear. In some cases, the mutated gene that causes the tumors is passed down through families, but this is rare. In most instances, the genetic mutation occurs spontaneously.

What are the symptoms of rhabdoid tumors?

The symptoms of rhabdoid tumors vary depending on the affected part of the body. Common symptoms can include a noticeable lump beneath the skin, difficulty breathing, nerve paralysis, fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, nausea and vomiting, irritability, fatigue, blood in the urine, decreased appetite, loss of balance or increased head size in infants.

How can rhabdoid tumors affect children?

Rhabdoid tumors develop most commonly in babies and young children. They typically form when a child is between 11 and 18 months old.

What are rhabdoid tumor treatments?

Treatment for rhabdoid tumors often involves multiple phases. The first phase is to surgically remove the tumor and surrounding affected tissues. After the surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used to shrink or kill remaining cancer cells in the body. Some children may require chemotherapy along with a stem cell transplant to help counter the side effects of the chemotherapy in young children. Research is also ongoing for other treatments, such as immunotherapy, targeted therapy and new types of chemotherapy.

Reviewed by: Maggie Fader, MD

This page was last updated on: November 02, 2023 10:43 AM