Survival statistics for rhabdomyosarcoma

Last medical review:

Survival statistics for rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) 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 RMS 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 (outcome).

The 5-year observed survival for RMS in children 0 to 14 years of age is 70%. This means that, on average, 70% of children 0 to 14 years of age diagnosed with RMS are expected to live at least 5 years after their diagnosis. The 5-year observed survival for RMS in children 15 to 19 years of age is 46%.

Survival by risk group

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

  • where the tumour started
  • the stage and clinical group
  • the child’s age
  • the type of RMS

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

Rhabdomyosarcoma survival

Risk group

5-year observed survival


70% to 90%


50% to 70%


20% to 30%

Questions about survival

Talk to your child’s doctor about their prognosis. A prognosis depends on many things, including:

  • the child’s health history
  • type of RMS
  • the stage and clinical group
  • certain characteristics of the cancer
  • the treatments chosen

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

  • Paul Nathan, MD, MSc, FRCPC
  • Normand Laperriere, MD, FRCPC
  • American Cancer Society. Rhabdomyosarcoma Early Dectection, Diagnosis, and Staging. 2018:
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Rhabdomyosarcoma - Childhood: Statistics. 2020:
  • Cripe TP . Medscape Reference: Pediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma. WebMD LLC; 2018:
  • Wexler LH, Skapek SX, Helman LJ. Rhabdomyosarcoma. Pizzo PA, Poplack DG, eds.. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer; 2016: 31:798–827.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

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