Ewing sarcoma is a cancer that occurs primarily in the bone or soft tissue. Ewing sarcoma can occur in any bone, but most often it is found in the hip bones, ribs, or in the long bones, such as the femur (thigh), tibia (shin), or humerus (upper arm). It can involve the muscle and the soft tissues around the tumor as well. Ewing sarcoma cells can also spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body including the bone marrow, lungs, kidneys, heart, adrenal gland, and other soft tissues.
Ewing sarcoma is a very rare cancer in adults. However, Ewing sarcoma accounts for about one percent of childhood cancers. About 225 children and adolescents are diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma in the U.S. each year. It is the second most common malignant bone tumor in children and adolescents. Ewing sarcoma most often occurs in children between the ages of ten and 20. More males are affected than females.
The exact cause of Ewing sarcoma is not fully understood. There seems to be no known risk factors or prevention measures available. However, researchers have discovered chromosomal changes in a cell's DNA that can lead to Ewing sarcoma formation. These changes are not inherited. They develop in children for no apparent reason after they are born.
In most cases, the change involved the fusing of genetic material between chromosomes #11 and #22. When a certain piece of chromosome #11 is placed next to the EWS gene on chromosome #22, the EWS gene gets "switched on." This activation leads to an overgrowth of the cells and eventually the development of cancer. Less often, there is an exchange of DNA between chromosome #22 and another chromosome that leads to the EWS gene being turned on. The exact mechanism remains unclear, but this important discovery has led to improvements in diagnosing Ewing sarcoma.
The following are the most common symptoms of Ewing sarcoma. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of Ewing sarcoma may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for Ewing sarcoma may include the following:
Ewing sarcoma is difficult to distinguish from other similar tumors. Diagnosis is often made by excluding all other common solid tumors, and by the use of genetic studies.
Specific treatment for Ewing sarcoma will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment may include:
It is unclear whether adults with Ewing sarcoma do as well as children. Some studies have suggested they do not, but these studies have been criticized because they used lower doses of chemotherapy than those used in children. Other studies have suggested that when treated aggressively, adults can do as well as children. In children with localized disease, cure rates are as high as 80 percent, but in metastatic disease, long-term survival is around 25 percent. The individual patient prognosis for Ewing sarcoma greatly depends on:
A person who was treated for Ewing sarcoma as a child or adolescent may develop effects months or years after treatment ends. These effects are called late effects. The kind of late effects one develops depends on the location of the tumor and the way it was treated.
Some types of treatment may later affect fertility. If this side effect is permanent, it will cause infertility, or the inability to have children. Both men and women can be affected.
As with any cancer, prognosis and long-term survival can vary greatly from person to person. Every individual is unique and treatment and prognosis is structured around your needs. Prompt medical attention and aggressive therapy are important for the best prognosis. Continuous follow-up care is essential for a person diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma. Late effects of radiation and chemotherapy, such as second malignancies, can occur in survivors of Ewing sarcoma. New methods are continually being discovered to improve treatment and to decrease side effects.
Click here to view the
Online Resources of Bone Disorders