Ewing's sarcoma is a type of malignant round-cell tumor known to metastasize quickly to other parts of the body. Because of this Ewing's sarcoma is considered one of the most aggressive bone tumors.
Ewing's sarcoma attaches itself to bone marrow and presents itself as a bone tumor; however, Ewing's sarcoma can have characteristics of both mesodermal (skin-related) and ectodermal (muscle and bone) origin.
Ewing's sarcoma can occur anywhere in the body, however it usually presents itself in the pelvis as well as the long bones - femur, humerus, and ribs. One of the most common sites is at the diaphyses - the mid-section of long bones. Ewing's sarcoma usually begins in the bones but can also affect the soft tissue. Oftentimes at presentation, Ewing's sarcoma has already metastasized. Ewing's sarcoma is most common in younger children, with males having almost double frequency of females of developing the cancer. The peak in distribution is between the ages of 10 and 20.
Cause of Ewing's sarcoma
While the cause of Ewing's sarcoma is debated, many believe DNA exchanges and chromosomal changes to be the cause. Ewing's sarcoma develops when chromosomal exchange occurs between chromosomes 11 and 22, fusing the EWS gene of chromosome 22 to FLI1 gene of chromosome 11. There are currently no risk factors or methods of prevention known.
Ewing's Sarcoma Symptoms
Typical symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma include the following:
- Pain in the affected area
- Swelling and redness in the affected area
- Weight loss
- Numbness or tingling as a result of the tumor compressing nerves
Overall symptoms present themselves like many other bone infections. Ewing's sarcoma is often mistaken for osteomyelitis and osteosarcoma when judged on symptoms alone.
Ewing's family of tumors
Ewing's sarcoma is often considered to be part of the same family as the primitive neuroectodermal tumors. These tumors share a common chromosomal trait and genetic locus, and the family is called The Ewing's Family of Tumors. While Ewing's sarcoma typically implies bone tumors, primitive neuroectodermal tumors are not associated with bones.
Ewing's sarcoma treatment
Treatment for Ewing's sarcoma typically involves chemotherapy, however other treatment options are often considered. The affected limb can often be saved with techniques such as bone grafts, rotationplasty and prosthetic implants.