Ewing sarcoma: Causes, symptoms, and treatment – Medical News Today

By daniellenierenberg

Ewing sarcoma is a form of bone cancer that usually affects children and adolescents.

Ewing sarcoma can be very aggressive, but the cells tend to respond well to radiation therapy. Ideally, doctors will diagnose the cancer before it has spread.

According to the National Library of Medicine, an estimated 250 children in the United States receive a diagnosis of Ewing sarcoma each year.

In this article, learn more about Ewing sarcoma, including the symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that usually starts in the bone typically in the pelvis, chest wall, or legs and occurs mostly in children and teenagers.

Dr. James Ewing first described Ewing sarcoma in 1921. He identified cancer cells that looked different than the cells in osteosarcoma, another type of bone tumor.

Doctors may also refer to this cancer type as the Ewing family of tumors. These tumors have distinct cells that usually respond well to radiation treatments.

This rare cancer type accounts for just 1.5% of all childhood cancers and is the second most common bone cancer type in childhood, after osteosarcoma.

Although researchers are unsure why some people develop Ewing sarcoma, they have identified mutations in certain genes in the tumor cells that cause this cancer.

These include the EWSR1 gene on chromosome 22 and the FLI1 gene on chromosome 11.

These genetic mutations occur spontaneously during a person's lifetime. The individual does not inherit them from a family member.

There are no known risk factors for Ewing sarcoma that make one person more likely than another to develop this cancer.

Ewing sarcoma can cause the following symptoms:

An estimated 87% of Ewing sarcomas are sarcoma of the bone. The other types form in the soft tissues, such as cartilage, that surround the bones.

Ewing sarcoma can spread to other areas of the body. Doctors call this process metastasis.

Areas that the cancer can spread to include other bones, bone marrow, and the lungs.

Doctors categorize Ewing sarcoma as one of three types according to its extent:

Before diagnosing Ewing sarcoma, a doctor will take a person's full medical history and ask them what symptoms they are having, when they noticed them, and what makes them better or worse. They will also perform a thorough physical exam, focusing on the area of concern.

A doctor will usually recommend an imaging study to view the bone or bones. These tests include:

If it looks as though a tumor may be present, a doctor will perform a biopsy, which involves taking a sample of bone tissue. They will send this tissue to a laboratory, where a specialist called a pathologist will check it for the presence of cancerous cells.

A doctor may also order blood tests, a bone marrow biopsy, and other scans when necessary. These tests can help determine whether the cancer has spread to other locations.

A doctor will work with a team of cancer specialists and surgeons to recommend and implement particular treatments.

Possible treatments for Ewing sarcoma include:

Doctors may use a combination of treatments depending on how far the cancer has spread and a person's overall health.

Research into new treatments for Ewing sarcoma is ongoing. Some doctors may inform their patients about clinical trials, which help test new treatments.

Possible complications of Ewing sarcoma include:

If Ewing sarcoma has spread to other areas of the body, it can be life threatening. For this reason, it is vital for a doctor to evaluate any symptoms as quickly as possible.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, an estimated two-thirds of people in whom cancer has not spread to other areas of the body survive at least 5 years after their diagnosis.

People who are more likely to have positive outcomes include those who have:

The likelihood of successful treatment is different for every individual, so people should speak to a doctor about their or their child's expected outlook.

Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that mostly affects young people.

When doctors detect it early enough, the condition usually responds well to treatment.

Anyone who notices signs or symptoms of Ewing sarcoma, such as a bone that breaks for no apparent reason or a painful lump or swelling, should speak to a doctor.

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Ewing sarcoma: Causes, symptoms, and treatment - Medical News Today

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