What is Ewing Sarcoma?Ewing sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that can form in bones and soft tissues such as nerves, muscles and cartilage. Ewing sarcoma is most frequently seen in young people and accounts for around 2% of cancers in children. Fortunately, treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma has a relatively high success rate, especially when diagnosed early. There are several different types of Ewing sarcoma. These include:
- Bone tumours – the most common form of Ewing sarcoma, making up around 87% of cases. Often occurs in areas such as thigh bones, shoulder blades and ribs.
- Soft tissue sarcomas – This type of tumour affects the tissue surrounding the bones. It can occur throughout your body in muscles and cartilage.
- Peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumour (pPNET) – This rare form of tumour can occur in nerves throughout your body.
Causes of Ewing Sarcoma:It is unclear what factors cause Ewing sarcoma to occur. However, the development of Ewing sarcoma has been linked with rapid bone growth. This explains why it occurs more frequently in younger people.
How is Ewing Sarcoma Diagnosed?Ewing sarcoma is diagnosed through a number of different tests. Your doctor will usually start with a physical exam, where he/she will examine the suspected area for swelling, lumps or redness. From there, the doctor will usually recommend some form of imaging, such as an x-ray or MRI. Imaging allows doctors to get a better idea of what is going on and assess what stage and severity the tumour is.
Symptoms of Ewing Sarcoma:There are several common symptoms associated with Ewing sarcoma. These symptoms may vary depending on the location, stage and severity of the tumour. Below are some of the most common signs:
- Noticeable swelling – The most obvious sign of a bone cancer like Ewing sarcoma is a lump that feels soft and warm to touch. Lumps and swelling are often mistaken for bumps or bruises. These lumps may increase in size over time.
- Pain in the affected area – Sufferers of Ewing sarcoma may experience pain in the area of the tumour. This pain can be felt in the bone and may get worse after you exercise or while you are trying to sleep. In the legs, pain may make walking difficult.
- Bone weakness – Ewing sarcoma can cause the affected bone to break more easily. A broken bone is often what results in doctors detecting the tumour.
- Fever – Sufferers may experience intermittent fevers.
Treatment for Ewing SarcomaThere are several available treatments that work in weakening and destroying Ewing sarcoma. The recommended treatment varies from patient to patient depending on what is the most effective, low-risk option. Below are some of the most common forms of treatment: Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to target and destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy is usually the first step in treating Ewing sarcomas and may be used prior to radiation therapy or surgery to increase effectiveness. Chemotherapy is administered either orally or intravenously in a series of “sessions”. The break between each session gives your body a chance to recover from the side-effects. The frequency of sessions and type of drugs administered will be decided by an oncologist. Common side-effects of chemotherapy include:
- Extreme fatigue and tiredness
- Loss of hair
- Increased risk of infection
- Nausea and vomiting
- Irritated or red skin around the targeted area
- Loss of hair around the targeted area