Ewing’s sarcoma is a malignant (cancerous) tumor that begins either in the bone or in the tissue around the bone. While the tumor can be located anywhere in the body, it often found in the long bones, which include the upper arm, pelvis, thigh, and shin. Ewing’s sarcoma primarily occurs in children and young adults but most often appears during the teen years, when bones are quickly growing. It can spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body, most often the lungs, other bones, and other soft tissue.
At the Solid Tumor Oncology Program, part of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, we provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for children with Ewings sarcoma.
Our dedicated team of specialists evaluates your child in a single visit, and will create a customized treatment plan and begin your individualized treatment plan immediately. We are one of the first in the nation to offer this type of collaborative care for children with cancer. We are also one of the nation’s largest multidisciplinary programs caring for children with solid tumors, and have the largest pediatric oncology research effort in the state.
Our Tumor Board meets weekly to discuss the care and treatment of children who are newly diagnosed with cancer, those currently on therapy, and families seeking a second opinion. Pediatric oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians attend the Tumor Board, allowing for our collective expertise to provide thorough, comprehensive approach to the care of children with cancer.
Ewing’s Sarcoma Symptoms
Symptoms will vary depending on tumor size and whether or not the cancer has spread. Symptoms can include:
- Pain at the site of the tumor
- Swelling at the site of the tumor
- Broken bone from a minor injury or no injury
Diagnosing Ewing’s Sarcoma
Diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma begins with a thorough health history and a comprehensive physical examination. Some testing will be required and may include blood work, an x-ray, an, a CT scan, an MRI, and a bone scan. A biopsy to confirm the diagnosis is performed by removing a small piece of tissue from the tumor for examination under a microscope. A bone marrow biopsy may also be required to determine if the cancer has spread to the bone marrow.
If Ewing’s sarcoma is the diagnosis, your doctor will stage the tumor, which determines if and how far the cancer has spread. Staging the tumor will help determine a treatment plan.
Ewing’s Sarcoma Treatment
Every child’s treatment plan is individualized, based on the patient’s needs and the specific tumor, utilizing cutting-edge technology and the latest research. Because with Ewing’s sarcoma the tumor often spreads, a combination of treatments may be necessary to destroy all the cancer cells. Treatment options include:
Surgery – when possible, surgery is used to remove the primary tumor.
If a bone has been damaged by the tumor or by removing the tumor, the orthopedic surgeon can usually reconstruct the bone to preserve function. Joints and soft tissue can also be reconstructed, if needed.
Chemotherapy – chemotherapy may be required before surgery (to shrink the tumor and/or control spreading), after surgery (to eliminate any cancerous cells still present), or both. Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with drugs that can destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy includes a variety of drugs that are given in a variety of ways. We provide all available chemotherapy options, including continuous infusion chemotherapy, which is given slowly over one or more days through a pump that you carry with you.
Radiation – Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation – primarily X-rays – to kill cancer cells. When radiation treatments are given for cancer, special care is taken to ensure that as much normal tissue as possible is spared from radiation exposure. The radiation dose is precisely measured and carefully aimed to kill as many cancer cells as possible while sparing normal tissue.
Clinical trials – Our specialists are at the center of developing new therapies for cancer. In fact, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is one of only a few pediatric centers in the country providing patients access to Phase 1 clinical trials. Phase 1 clinical trials give patients at University of Michigan access to pivotal early-stage studies, connecting families to novel treatment therapies to patients before they are widely available.
At any time, you can ask your doctor or any of our health care professionals about clinical trial participation opportunities or you can view or sign up for studies that are currently recruiting participants at UMclinicaltrials.org.
Leading the Charge Against Ewing Sarcoma
In addition to active participation in clinical trials, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is also a leader in advancing basic science research related to treatment of Ewings sarcoma. Research efforts led by Dr. Elizabeth Lawlor are studying how Ewing sarcoma cancer cells are able to survive when deprived of oxygen, and whether suppression of specific proteins can address this abnormal cell survival and lead to better outcomes for patients.