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Ewing's sarcoma

What's the scoop?

 

Ewing's sarcomas are cancerous tumors that develop in the bones or the soft tissue. Most commonly Ewing's sarcomas will begin in the leg bones, pelvis or chest.

 

Two thirds of people who are diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma live long and healthy lives afterwards.

 

Genes and Ewing's sarcoma

 

Ewing's sarcomas are uncommon and are caused by a change in your genes that happens after birth.

Genes are sets of DNA that are found inside cells. These genes are the instructions for the cells which make them function in the right way, so when a gene mutates, or changes, the cell will stop working as it should.

 

Unlike other cancers, Ewing's sarcoma is not caused by a genetic mutation that is passed down through your parents.

 

What are the types?

 

There are three main types of Ewing sarcoma which are based on where they begin in the body.

 

  • Ewing's sarcoma of the bone - the most common type of this cancer which develops on the bones, such as the long bones of the legs.

 

  • Extraosseous Ewing tumor (EOE) - a Ewing's sarcoma tumor that begins in the soft tissue around the bones, such as in the pelvis or chest.

 

  • Peripheral rimitive neuroectodermal tumor (PPNET) - a rare type of Ewing's sarcoma where the cancer appears to begin in both the bone and the soft tissue.

 

 

Who's most at risk?

 

Ewing's sarcoma is more common in

  • children and teenages
  • males
  • people from a European ancestry

 

 

How can I check if I have it?

 

If you have symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma your doctor may do an imaging test, such as a CT, X-ray or MRI scan. Depending on the results of the imaging scan, the doctor may also choose to take a biopsy (tissue sample) of the suspected tumor to test it for cancerous cells.

 

It is important that you have a specialist in Ewing's sarcomas perform the biopsy to make sure it doesn't affect future surgeries you may need.

 

The medical team will test the sample for a genetic mutation in the EWSR1 gene which will help them confirm a Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis.

 

I have it. Now what?

 

Treatment for Ewing's sarcoma will depend on where the cancer has started in the body, the size of the tumor and if the tumor has spread. The plan of treatment will also be determined by your age and general health.

 

In Ewing's sarcoma it is common that small tumors may have spread from the orginal tumor which might not show up in imaging scans. For this reason, chemotherapy is usually the first treatment used to either kill the tumors or shrink them to make the surgical removal easier.

 

Surgery usually follows chemotherapy and will depend on where your tumor is located and the size of the tumor. The surgery may be to remove a small portion of the bone, or in some cases, removing an entire limb.

 

After surgery radiation may be required to kill any remaining cancer cells by targeted the area where the tumor was. It can also be used instead of surgery when surgery is not possible, or in advanced cases, to help reduce levels of pain from the tumor.

 

What's the scoop?

 

Ewing's sarcomas are cancerous tumors that develop in the bones or the soft tissue. Most commonly Ewing's sarcomas will begin in the leg bones, pelvis or chest.

 

Two thirds of people who are diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma live long and healthy lives afterwards.

 

Genes and Ewing's sarcoma

 

Ewing's sarcomas are uncommon and are caused by a change in your genes that happens after birth.

Graphic representation of Ewing's sarcoma

Genes are sets of DNA that are found inside cells. These genes are the instructions for the cells which make them function in the right way, so when a gene mutates, or changes, the cell will stop working as it should.

 

Unlike other cancers, Ewing's sarcoma is not caused by a genetic mutation that is passed down through your parents.

 

What are the types?

 

There are three main types of Ewing sarcoma which are based on where they begin in the body.

 

  • Ewing's sarcoma of the bone - the most common type of this cancer which develops on the bones, such as the long bones of the legs.

 

  • Extraosseous Ewing tumor (EOE) - a Ewing's sarcoma tumor that begins in the soft tissue around the bones, such as in the pelvis or chest.

 

  • Peripheral rimitive neuroectodermal tumor (PPNET) - a rare type of Ewing's sarcoma where the cancer appears to begin in both the bone and the soft tissue.

 

 

Who's most at risk?

 

Ewing's sarcoma is more common in

  • children and teenages
  • males
  • people from a European ancestry

 

 

How can I check if I have it?

 

If you have symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma your doctor may do an imaging test, such as a CT, X-ray or MRI scan. Depending on the results of the imaging scan, the doctor may also choose to take a biopsy (tissue sample) of the suspected tumor to test it for cancerous cells.

 

It is important that you have a specialist in Ewing's sarcomas perform the biopsy to make sure it doesn't affect future surgeries you may need.

 

The medical team will test the sample for a genetic mutation in the EWSR1 gene which will help them confirm a Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis.

 

I have it. Now what?

 

Treatment for Ewing's sarcoma will depend on where the cancer has started in the body, the size of the tumor and if the tumor has spread. The plan of treatment will also be determined by your age and general health.

 

In Ewing's sarcoma it is common that small tumors may have spread from the orginal tumor which might not show up in imaging scans. For this reason, chemotherapy is usually the first treatment used to either kill the tumors or shrink them to make the surgical removal easier.

 

Surgery usually follows chemotherapy and will depend on where your tumor is located and the size of the tumor. The surgery may be to remove a small portion of the bone, or in some cases, removing an entire limb.

 

After surgery radiation may be required to kill any remaining cancer cells by targeted the area where the tumor was. It can also be used instead of surgery when surgery is not possible, or in advanced cases, to help reduce levels of pain from the tumor.

 

Symptom list:

Ewing's sarcoma

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Financial support

Not all of us are able to afford the treatment we need. Search your insurance coverage, or check out what charities may be able to offer you for your condition.

p.s. Just because you have insurance, that doesn't mean that charities or other organizations are not able to support you too.

Emotional support

Whether it's a free counseling session or to find someone with a similar diagnosis, these Germie approved charities might be able to help. Click to explore their offerings!

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