Ewing sarcoma is an extremely rare form of bone cancer that makes up 1 percent of pediatric cancers. Only 225 children and teens are diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma each year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. It is even more rarely diagnosed in adults.
The cancer is most commonly found in the bones or soft tissue of the thigh, upper arm, ribs or shoulder blade.
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The following tests and procedures may be used to diagnose or stage Ewing sarcoma:
- Physical exam that includes a check for any signs of disease, including lumps or other abnormalities.
- X-ray of the possible area of cancer to look for tumors or to see if there is any spread beyond the cancer’s origin.
- Blood tests, including blood chemistry studies.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan to capture detailed images of the inside of the body.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan, which is a painless, non-invasive way to see inside the body using X-ray imaging. Multiple images taken from different angles create cross-sectional images of soft tissue, organs, blood vessels and bone. The digital images can be combined to create 3-D pictures.
- PET (positron emission tomography) scan that is combined with a CT scan to track the possible presence of cancer cells. During the exam a mildly radioactive substance is injected with a solution of glucose. Cancer cells absorb glucose more quickly than healthy cells and will display on the PET scan.
- A bone scan can identify the presence of cells that are rapidly replicating themselves, including cancer cells. During a bone scan, radioactive dye is injected into a vein. The dye can then be detected by the scanner if it collects in the bones and is absorbed by cancer cells.
Treatment of Ewing sarcoma for adults may include:
Chemotherapy is included as part of treatment for Ewing sarcoma cancer patients, according to the National Cancer Institute. Most commonly, chemotherapy is used to attack tumor cells that have spread beyond the cancer’s origin. It may also be used to shrink a tumor before radiation therapy or possible surgery.
Radiation therapy is used to treat Ewing sarcoma when surgery is not an option. Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a state-of-the-art radiation therapy available through Scripps.
Scripps Radiation Therapy Center is among most comprehensive in the region. It features San Diego’s most advanced intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) system and team of highly skilled radiation oncologists providing innovative treatments for cancer patients.
Surgery for Ewing sarcoma in adults is most commonly performed to remove any remaining tumors after radiation therapy or chemotherapy treatment. Sometimes, a skin or bone graft is needed to replace tissue or bone that has been removed as a result of Ewing sarcoma surgery.
Additional chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be recommended after a surgery to eliminate any remaining cancer cells that are invisible to the eye. This type of treatment provided after a primary treatment is known as “adjuvant” therapy.