Ewing’s sarcoma is named after Dr James Ewing who first described the tumour in the 1920s. This type of cancer can develop anywhere in the body, but usually starts in a bone. The commonest bones involved are the pelvis, upper arm or thigh. Occasionally it starts in the soft tissue near a bone.
Who gets Ewing’s sarcoma?
About 30 children develop Ewing’s sarcoma in the UK each year. It is more common in teenagers and young adults, and boys compared to girls. The cause of Ewing’s sarcoma is unknown.
Signs and symptoms
The most common symptom is pain in the affected bone. There may be some associated swelling and tenderness. If the tumour develops in the soft tissue this normally presents as a lump. Occasionally the child may have a fever.
Tests / investigations
We will need to carry out some tests to find out as much as possible about the type, position and size of the tumour. These tests include:
- X-ray of the affected bone to identify the tumour
- chest X-ray to see whether the tumour has spread to the lungs
- CT scan or MRI scan of the affected bone/tissue and chest to provide more information about the tumour and whether it has spread
- biopsy – a small operation, usually carried out under general anaesthetic, to remove some tissue
- bone marrow aspirate and trephine – these tests will tell us whether the tumour has spread to the bone marrow.
Staging refers to the size of the tumour and whether it has spread. Knowing the stage of the cancer helps the doctors decide on the most appropriate treatment for your child. Ewing’s sarcomas are divided into two groups. These are:
- localised, where the tumour is found in only one part of the body
- metastatic, where the tumour has spread to other parts of the body.