Ewing’s Sarcoma in Children

Sarcomas are cancers that begin in the body's connective tissues.

Sarcomas are often divided into two groups. One group is the bone cancers which begin in the hard part of the bone.  The other group is the soft tissue sarcomas which start in the muscles, fat, fibrous tissue, blood vessels, nerves, or other supporting tissues of the body.

Ewing's sarcoma is a form of bone cancer. It is the second most common malignant bone tumor of children and young adults and accounts for about 2 percent to 3 percent of all childhood tumors. Nearly half of all cases are in individuals 10-20 years of age.

Frequent sites include the bones of the leg, upper arm, pelvis, ribs, vertebrae and shoulder blade.

It is a fast-growing cancer that easily spreads to the lungs or to other bones.

Symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma include swelling and bone pain. The pain is often worse at night. At first the pain may be thought to be the result of an injury.

An X-ray of the painful area may show swelling that suggests a tumor. Sometimes it is hard to tell a tumor from a bone infection called osteomyelitis.

Diagnosis of Ewing's sarcoma is made by biopsy of the bone tumor. This is a surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia so the child is not conscious and will not feel any pain. Then a small part of the suspicious bone is removed and looked at under a microscope.

Besides the biopsy, additional tests are done to see if the disease has spread. These tests may include a chest X-ray, bone scansCT scans, MRI and a bone marrow aspirate and biopsy.

No single method of treatment appears to be successful alone. A combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation is most often used.

Your child's treatment plan will be based on the location of the tumor, whether the tumor has spread, and if there is any residual tumor after surgery.

Cincinnati Children's is an international referral center for the treatment of children and young adults with high-risk and relapsed cancers. Our faculty members lead national efforts in the development of new targeted therapies, immunological approaches, and stem cell transplantation.

For additional information on this topic, contact cancer@cchmc.org.

Last Updated 11/2013