This post is dedicated to Alice, a lovely lady and a real inspiration. You are amazing Alice!
Ewing’s Sarcoma is named after the doctor that described it in the 1920’s, Dr James Ewing. It can develop anywhere in the body, although it usually starts in the bone (known as a primary bone tumour). Any bone can be affected but the most commonly affected bones are the pelvis, femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). Ewing’s sarcoma is most commonly found in teens and young adults, although it can affect any age group. It is more common in males then in females.
Ewing’s sarcoma can sometimes occur in soft tissues rather then bone but this is quite rare. This is known as extraosseous Ewing’s sarcoma.
The exact cause of this cancer type is as yet unknown. It could be related to rapid bone growth in some way and would explain why it is commonly found in young people.
Pain is the most common symptom of bone cancer but the symptoms of Ewing’s sarcoma will depend on the position of the cancer and its size. Swelling may occur and the affected area may be tender to touch. Bone cancer is sometimes diagnosed when a bone breaks due to it being weakened by cancer, usually after a minor fall or accident. The symptoms can be difficult to spot as they can be caused by other things as well but any persistent bone pain should be checked by a doctor.
If Ewing’s sarcoma is suspected then you may be referred to a specialist for further investigations including biopsies, x rays, bone scans, MRI or CT scans. Your bone marrow may also be tested.
Ewing’s sarcoma is very rare and they are usually treated at specialist hospitals. A combination of treatment is usually used to treat this type of cancer and this can include chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Treatment will depend on the size and position of the tumour although most people have chemotherapy to reduce the tumour and treat any cells that may have spread to other body parts before having surgery around three to six months later. Chemotherapy usually continues after surgery as well.
Amputation of the affected area used to be common for Ewing’s sarcoma sufferers but it is now sometimes possible to just remove part of the affected bone and replace with a bone graft from another part of the body or use prosthesis. This is known as limb sparing surgery. However, in some cases amputation is necessary, especially if the cancer has spread to surrounding nerves and blood vessels.
I hope this short but informative blog post has been helpful for you, please do contact Sarcoma UK if you are worried about Ewing’s sarcoma http://www.sarcoma.org.uk/