Everything You Need To Know About
Ewing sarcoma is a form of bone or soft tissue tumor. It is more prevalent among children and adolescents, accounting for 1% of all childhood cancers. The five-year survival rate of Ewing sarcoma is 83%. Local metastasis decreases it to 69%. Upon distant metastasis, the percentage falls to 15% or 30%. Some factors lead to a better survival rate. These are the following:
- Being less than ten years old
- Having a smaller tumor
- Having the tumor on an arm or a leg
- Normal levels of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) enzyme
- Effective chemotherapy
wing sarcoma is generally a rare tumor. It often appears in the long bones, such as the leg and arm or pelvic area. However, it can occur in any bone. It is an aggressive tumor that can quickly metastasize to vital organs and cause severe complications that may lead to death. The fact that Ewing sarcoma is prevalent among children makes it a very fearful condition.
What is the cause of Ewing sarcoma?
Scientists do not know the exact cause of Ewing sarcoma. It is not an inherited disease. However, researchers suggest that some acquired changes in an individual’s DNA are responsible for the appearance of the tumor. These mutations occur when chromosomes 11 and 12 exchange genetic information, leading to the overgrowth of some particular cells. Researchers are still trying to find which cells are responsible for the origin of Ewing sarcoma.
Risk factors for Ewing sarcoma
As mentioned previously, Ewing sarcoma does not have a clear cause. Still, some risk factors may increase your chances or your child’s chances of presenting with the disease. Young children or teenagers are in greater danger when compared to other age groups. Also, Caucasians have a higher risk of developing Ewing sarcoma than people of other descents. Finally, males have a slightly higher chance than females. Can you prevent Ewing sarcoma? Doctors do not have a clear answer on that. Being fit and eating healthy helps to maintain your overall health. On top of that, smoking cessation and stop drinking will also contribute to your general wellbeing. You cannot take a scientifically proven action to prevent Ewing sarcoma. However, fit and healthy organisms usually respond better to treatments.
Swelling and pain – the commonest symptoms of Ewing sarcoma
Children, adolescents, or young adults with Ewing sarcoma may experience swelling and pain at the site where the tumor grows. Other times, Ewing sarcoma may present without symptoms, or it may be a whole different condition. Therefore, further testing is necessary apart from a physical examination. The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of Ewing sarcoma:
- Swelling and pain on the site where the tumor grows, usually in the bone or the soft tissue that surrounds the bone
- Stiffness or tenderness on the site of the growth
- A smooth and warm swelling under the skin
- A fever that doesn’t go away
- A pathological fracture or a broken bone that did not happen because of an injury
- If you or your child has any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible and figure out their cause. Your doctors will ask you some very critical questions regarding your personal experience and the time you first noticed that something is not as usual.
Diagnosis of Ewing sarcoma
Your doctor will diagnose Ewing sarcoma by combining some diagnostic methods and their results. Apart from history and physical examination, you will have to undergo some tests that might be simple or invasive. A blood test and particularly the levels of LDH enzyme are very significant. On top of that, you might need an X-ray too. The most effective way to diagnose Ewing sarcoma is by taking a biopsy from the tissue of the tumor or a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. After obtaining positive results, you might need to undergo some imaging tests like CT, PET-CT, or bone scan, and MRI. Immunohistochemistry and cytogenetic tests and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) are some additional procedures. The ensemble of some of these tests will help your doctor stage the tumor and proceed to a treatment plan.
Your tumor might be a localized one, metastatic, or a recurrent one. A localized tumor is better to treat. A metastatic one already spread to other organs of the body. A recurrent Ewing sarcoma is a tumor that appears again after treatment. Finding your stage of Ewing sarcoma helps to establish the prognosis, meaning the chances that you recover from cancer.
How to treat Ewing sarcoma?
There are four types of standard treatment for Ewing sarcoma. These are the following:
- Radiation therapy
- High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue
Side effects related to the treatment of Ewing sarcoma are often late. Usually, you can control or treat some of them. Before starting on any treatment, you and your doctor will discuss the possible side effects and your options. The most common side effects are physical or cognitive disturbances and secondary cancers. Acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome can appear in those with a previous and treated Ewing sarcoma. Also, radiation therapy may result in a secondary sarcoma. Doctors decide which treatments are suitable for you or your child, according to the stage of the tumor. Therefore, you might need a different combination of treatments depending on the behavior of your tumor.