Ewing’s sarcoma is a type of bone cancer named after Dr James Ewing, who identified the tumour in the 1920s.
Although Ewing’s sarcoma can occur at any age, it is most usually found in adolescents and young adults whose bones are still growing and is less common after the age of 30. It can develop anywhere but is usually found in the pelvis, lower leg (tibia) and thigh bone (femur). In a very few cases, the sarcoma will start in the soft tissues that surround the bone or the joint, rather then the bone itself. This type of Ewing’s sarcoma is extraosseous which means ‘outside the bone’.
While the cause of this type of bone cancer is not known, it is thought to relate to the stress placed on bones during times of rapid growth.
The signs and symptoms of Ewing’s sarcoma will depend on the size of the cancer and where it is in the body. The main symptoms are:
- bone pain in the affected area; in many patients this grows more severe over time and is especially bad at night
- swelling and tenderness in the affected area.
Other less common symptoms include:
- a feeling of exhaustion
- weight loss.
As tumours grow, they can also put pressure on the soft tissues around them, causing swelling and pain. Some Ewing's sarcomas cause no symptoms at all, but weaken the affected bone. This means it is at risk of fracturing.
These symptoms, however, can be caused by a wide range of conditions and many patients who experience them will not have Ewing’s sarcoma. Pain and swellings, for example, can be the result of sports injuries.