Survival statistics for rhabdomyosarcoma

Survival statistics for rhabdomyosarcoma are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. These statistics are based on the experience of groups of children and cannot be used to predict a particular child’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your child’s doctor can explain the statistics for rhabdomyosarcoma and what they mean for your child.

Observed survival

Observed survival is also called overall survival. It is the percentage of children with a certain type of cancer who are expected to live for at least a specified period of time after their diagnosis. Doctors often use the observed survival rate when they talk about a prognosis.

The 5-year observed survival for rhabdomyosarcoma in children 0–14 years of age is 75%. This means that, on average, 75% of children diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma are expected to be alive at least 5 years after their diagnosis.

Observed survival does not consider the cause of death. But of the 25% of children who don’t survive 5 years, most die from the cancer rather than from other causes.

Survival by risk group

Survival varies with each risk group for rhabdomyosarcoma. The following factors can also affect survival for rhabdomyosarcoma:

  • where the tumour started
  • the stage
  • the child’s age
  • the type of rhabdomyosarcoma

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different risk groups of rhabdomyosarcoma. The following information comes from a variety of sources. It may include statistics from other countries that are likely to have similar outcomes as in Canada.

Rhabdomyosarcoma survival

Risk group

5-year observed survival


over 90%





Questions about survival

Talk to your child’s doctor about prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors, including the:

  • child’s medical history
  • type of cancer
  • stage of the cancer
  • characteristics of the cancer
  • treatments chosen
  • response to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

Expert review and references