Ewing’s Sarcoma: Symptoms, Treatment, Complications

Overview

Ewing’s sarcoma refers to a cancer of the bones or soft tissues. In the title, sarcoma is a generic term for cancer of your muscle, tendon, cartilage, nerve, blood vessels and other parts, while Ewing refers to the person who first described the disease in 1921, whose name is James Ewing. Typically, Ewing’s sarcoma happens in the pelvis and the large long bones of the arms and leg, but it can actually occur to any bones in the body. In the treatment process of Ewing’s sarcoma, intense radiation and chemotherapy are often used. So, in order to prevent potential side effects, people who go through the treatment process usually need to be monitored their entire life.

In the united states, Ewing’s sarcoma can be found 1 case per 1 million people every year. About 200 children and young adults in America are affected by Ewing’s sarcoma. Among the affected, most people are under 20 years old. Although Ewing’s sarcoma is more commonly seen in teenagers, it, in fact, can happen at any age. Moreover, men are slightly more likely to be affected by the condition than women. Overall, Ewing’s sarcoma is more commonly seen in white people and African Americans or Asian Americans.


Causes

Researchers have found that in the cells of Ewing’s sarcomas, 95% of them have a specific chromosomal translocation, which is a type of genetic mutation. At present, the researches on Ewing’s sarcoma are still ongoing and the exact cause of this translocation remains to be a problem to solve. Also, based on current studies, Ewing’s sarcoma does not appear to be inherited.


Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of Ewing’s sarcoma may include:

  • Pain at the site of the tumor
  • Palpable swelling
  • Weakness
  • Clumsiness
  • Tingling in the arms and legs
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Stiffness
  • A lump near the skin
  • Bone pain
  • Fractures without an obvious reason
  • Fatigue
  • Incontinence
  • Paralysis

Diagnosis

Ewing’s sarcoma is a rare disease and it is often misdiagnosed at first.

To confirm a diagnosis, the doctor often needs to order imaging tests such as X-ray, MR (magnetic resonance) scan, CT (computed tomography) scan, PET (positron emission tomography) scan, and bone scan. Detailed images can help the doctor to see the situation in a clearer way. Also, a biopsy may also be done so that a diagnosis can be confirmed.


Treatment

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are available options for treating Ewing’s sarcoma. These treatment methods can be used alone or in combination.

  • Chemotherapy. For people with Ewing’s sarcoma, they usually are treated with chemotherapy first. Basically, this therapy aims at killing cancer cells and preventing them from further growing.
  • Surgery. The fundamental goal of surgery is to remove the cancer cells completely. This way, the cancer cells can not spread to other parts of the body.
  • Radiation therapy. This therapy uses X-rays and other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. Although radiation may be effective at killing the cancer cells, it may also cause unwanted side effects. So even if people with Ewing’s sarcoma receive radiation therapy, they need to return to the hospital for the regular check for a lifetime.

Based on the size, location of the tumor, whether the cancer cells have spread to other parts and the patient’s overall health, the doctor will tailor treatment plans for each individual.


Prognosis

For different patients at different stages, the doctor may give a different prognosis. Usually, if the cancer cells have not spread to other parts of the body, up to 80% of the patients with Ewing’s sarcoma can be cured. However, if the tumor has spread, then the survival rate would be much lower.


Complications

The treatment and recovery of Ewing’s sarcoma are pretty difficult because the tumor can spread from its original site to other parts of the body such as bone marrow, nearby bones and even the lungs. That’s why even if patients with Ewing’s sarcoma become better after one treatment process, they may need to return to the hospital again because the condition has returned. Also, the side effects of radiation therapy can be substantial.


Keywords: Ewing’s sarcoma.


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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.