Journalist Dan Rather says he learned from a single source close to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that Chavez is suffering from end-stage rhabdomyosarcoma. The unnamed source told Rather Chavez is likely to live a couple of months at most, not long enough to see the results of Venezuela's Oct. 7 presidential election. Chavez is on the ballot along with Henrique Capriles Radonski.
Chavez completed a round of radiation in Cuba two weeks ago. In February, the South American leader had a pelvic tumor surgically removed, the BBC said, the same site of a previous tumor surgery last year. The nature of his cancer has not previously been disclosed.
What is Rabodmyosarcoma?
According to the American Cancer Society, rhabodymyosarcoma, or RMS, is a particular type of sarcoma. A sarcoma is any cancer that develops in the body's connective tissue. That includes muscle, fat, bones, and linings of blood vessels and joints.
RMS is a rare cancer that attacks the skeletal muscles. It's most commonly found in the head and neck, bladder, vagina, prostate, testes, arms or legs, the Mayo Clinic says. About 40 percent of newly diagnosed cases involve the head or neck, the Liddy Shriver Cancer Initiative says. Another 25 percent affects the genitourinary tract.
Arm and leg tumors are the most aggressive and can grow from the size of a mosquito bite to the size of a grapefruit in a matter of weeks.
There are two main types and several subtypes of RMS, according to ACS. The main types are called embryonic and alveolar.
RMS is a cancer that typically affects children The adult form is harder to treat as it commonly involves hard to treat body parts and is fast-growing. Adult RMS is described as clinically aggressive and highly metastatic with poor survival outcome.
LSSI explains that unfavorable histologies are more common in adult RMS cases, but even taking that into account, treatment outcomes can be as favorable as those in pediatric cases.
Metastatic Profile and Prognosis
In about 20 percent of RMS diagnoses, the cancer has already metastasized, LLSI says.
In adults, RMS tends to metastasize most frequently in the lungs, followed by the bone marrow and lymph nodes, according to a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology. The five year survival rates are less than 50 percent, the study said, while cautioning that the data is retrospective and treatments are improving.
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