Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones. Ewing sarcoma most often begins in the leg bones and in the pelvis, but it can occur in any bone. Less often, it starts in the softest tissues of the chest, abdomen, limbs or other locations.
Ewing sarcoma is more common in children and teenagers, but it can occur at any age. It shows up slightly more often in males.
Types of Ewing Sarcoma
The type of Ewing Sarcoma a patient has can be identified where the tumor forms. The pelvis is where it most often starts, followed by the femur (or thigh bone). Regardless of where it starts, it can spread to other bones, bone marrow, and even vital organs such as the lungs, heart, and kidneys. Some types are;
- Bone tumor – 87% of Ewing sarcoma happens in the bone, often appearing in the thigh bones, pelvis, ribs, or shoulder blades. But the tumor can appear in any bone.
- Soft tissue (extra-osseous) tumor – this type of tumor affects the soft tissues around the bones, such as cartilage or muscle. It’s rarely found in the soft tissue of the arms, legs, head, neck, chest and abdomen.
Signs and symptoms of Ewing sarcoma include;
- Pain, swelling or tenderness near the affected area
- Bone pain
- Unexplained tiredness
- Fever with no known cause
- Losing weight without trying
Diagnosis and Tests
The doctor has a number of tests to see whether a patient has Ewing sarcoma. If they do, the doctor will try to find out whether the tumor has spread and to what extent. This is known as staging.
These tests includes;
- Physical Exam
- Bone Scan
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Computer Tomography Scan (CAT/CT Scan)
Like all types of cancer, the earlier Ewing sarcoma is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
Ewing sarcoma is usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove.
Ewing sarcoma also responds well to radiotherapy. It can be used to shrink the tumor after chemotherapy, and before or after surgery to lower the risk of the cancer returning.
In some cases, surgically removing Ewing sarcoma can be difficult — for example if it develops in the pelvis. In this case, radiotherapy may be used as the main treatment.
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