A rhabdoid tumor is a very rare childhood tumor with a poor prognosis. Researchers originally found these tumors in the kidney but further study showed that they can also show up in the central nervous system or other organs. They are extremely aggressive and can be very hard to treat. Many patients qualify for participation in clinical trials, where they have access to more advanced treatments still in development, and others may qualify for compassionate use of experimental drugs if a doctor determines that they have a limited chance of survival.
There appears to be a strong genetic link with rhabdoid tumors, and these growths usually appear in children under two years of age. In kidney tumors, the patient develops an abdominal mass, pain, and bloody urine. Blood pressure often rises as the tumor interferes with kidney function, and the patient may develop fatigue and irritability. Brain tumors cause symptoms like brain swelling, behavioral changes, and seizures.
A doctor can perform a medical imaging study to locate a rhabdoid tumor, and may request a biopsy sample to study the cells and learn more about the specifics of the case. Numerous kinds of tumors can show up in the central nervous system and kidneys, and it is important to get the diagnosis right so the patient receives the most appropriate care. The testing will also help the doctor develop a treatment plan, as size and precise location can be important factors when thinking about the best way to approach a rhabdoid tumor.
If a rhabdoid tumor is operable, the doctor will recommend surgical removal to get the cancerous cells out of the body and relieve stress on the patient's organs. After surgery, the patient needs chemotherapy to prevent recurrence of the cancer by suppressing the dangerous cells. In patients who cannot receive surgery, the first line treatment is chemotherapy to kill the tumor. The drug regimen can vary. Some facilities have preferred drug cocktails, and the location of the tumor may also determine the most appropriate drugs and dosages.
Patients with a diagnosis of rhabdoid tumor do not look forward to a good outcome, but they should not give up hope. New treatments are constantly in development and some patients respond better to treatment than others. It may be possible to enter a clinical trial, where a patient will have access to new medications and can contribute to cancer research. Such contributions can make a difference for future patients as well as provide an opportunity for remission for the patient.