What is Ewing's Sarcoma & How is it Treated?
Ewing's sarcoma is a form of cancer which is commonly found in children and young people. It is a bone cancer occurring in long bones, spine, pelvis and ribs. Ewing's sarcoma is commonly found in teenage group, that too especially in boys. Although it is a bone cancer type, but in some rare cases it is also found in the soft tissues of the body.
Causes of Ewing's Sarcoma
Till date the actually cause of Ewing's sarcoma is not known. So far research has proven the fact that it is not caused because of constant exposure to radiations, chemicals or entry of foreign particle in body. It has been found that cell DNA changes immediately after birth and this change leads to Ewing's sarcoma. However, why this happens is still not known. Experts have a strong belief that the possibility of having this type of cancer is the result of radiation treatment done for curing another type of cancer.
Unlike other types of cancer this is noninfectious and is not passed on from one individual to another.
Is Ewing's Sarcoma Genetic?
Yes, Ewing's sarcoma has genetic roots. Ewing's sarcoma can be inherited from your parents.
Ewing Sarcoma vs Osteosarcoma
Earlier, there was a wide range of misdiagnoses happened between Osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma. Symptoms that are primarily seen in patient suffering from Osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma is fever and body pain. Usually people often get confused and consider that Ewing sarcoma and Osteosarcoma is same; however, this is not true. Ewing sarcoma is the second most common malignant bone cancer found after Osteosarcoma. Ewing's sarcoma and Osteosarcoma can be distinguished by the type of tumor and presence of metastases.
How rare is Ewing's Sarcoma?
Of all the childhood cancers, Ewing's sarcoma accounts for 1.5 percent and it is the 2nd most common kind of tumor of the bone.
Symptoms of Ewing's Sarcoma
Some common symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma include:
- Constant fluctuation in temperature (fever).
- A symptom of Ewing's sarcoma is severe pain in bones while doing exercise or at night time.
- Fracture in bones without any cause.
- Formation of lump near soft skin.
- Sudden weight loss.
- If tumor develops near spine area, then it can lead to loss of bladder control or even paralysis.
People who experience any of the above mentioned symptoms should immediately consult a doctor for further diagnosis. Treatment for Ewing's sarcoma becomes easy if the disease is detected in the early stage.
Ewing's Sarcoma in Adults
Usually Ewing's sarcoma is more common in teenagers, but it is also found in adults. This difference is that adults exhibits less symptoms and it is also very rare.
Tests to Diagnose Ewing's Sarcoma
After experiencing any of the symptoms, one should immediately visit their general practitioner for diagnosis of Ewing's sarcoma. After performing the primary examination, doctors prescribe necessary tests for further diagnoses. X-ray of the affected area and blood test are the basic tests done. In addition, depending on severity doctors also prescribe bone scan, bone marrow biopsy and PET (positron emission tomography) scan. Depending on the level of severity, the series of tests and examination techniques changes for diagnosing the actual problem. Before starting with the treatment one needs to completely analyze the tumor type and its location in the body.
How is Ewing's Sarcoma Treated?
There are different types of treatments performed for treating Ewing's sarcoma. The selection of treatment type is determined based on age, medical history, location & severity of tumor, body acceptance for a particular medication and therapies and so on.
Considering the above criteria, some of the popular types of treatment for Ewing's sarcoma include:
- Tumor removal surgery is a treatment mode for Ewing's sarcoma.
- Frequent radiation therapies.
- In very serious case, amputation of the effected organ.
- Intake of suitable antibiotics for treating and further preventing the infection.
- Rehabilitation for both physical as well as psychosocial treatment.
- Continuous follow up to determine the response of the treatment.
What is Ewing's Sarcoma Survival Rate?
In medical term, the survival rate of Ewing's sarcoma patients are referred as 5-year survival rate. This means that patient can survive up to 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. There are many people who live much longer than 5 years. Survival rate is depicted based on the previous outcome of large number of patients who have suffered from Ewing's sarcoma.
If the patient of Ewing's sarcoma does not have any metastases and has undergone surgery and chemotherapy, the survival rate is 70 percent.
Recovery Period/Healing Time for Ewing's Sarcoma
Recovery period or healing time for Ewing's sarcoma varies with age, location of tumor and treatment performed. Usually the recovery period varies from weeks' to months'. In some of the rare cases, the patient experiences reversibility of cancer tissues, hence; one needs to go for repeated therapy in some intervals. Patients suffering from Ewing's sarcoma need to keep patience and positive attitude. The treatment is time consuming as every therapy has some defined associated time.
Prevention of Ewing's Sarcoma
Chances of an individual to develop cancer depend on both genetic as well as nongenetic factors. As genetic factor is an inherited element, hence; one cannot take any preventive measure in this regard. For nongenetic factors, one can take some healthy preventive measures such as healthy diet, active lifestyle and so on to prevent Ewing's sarcoma.
Risk Factors for Ewing's Sarcoma
Rick factor is something that makes an individual prone towards the disease. Some of the common risk factors for most of the cancers are improper diet, smoking, tobacco, minimum or no physical activity and excess body weight. However, none of these play significant role in causing childhood cancer known as Ewing's sarcoma. It is found that the possibility of Ewing's sarcoma is very high among white and it is very rarely found in Africans. Further, it is more common in male as compared to female. As such, there is no particular age when an individual is more prone to affect by Ewing's sarcoma, but most Ewing's sarcomas occur at the age between 10 to 20 years.
Complications of Ewing's Sarcoma
Advancement in medical treatments bought drastic improvement in the physical condition of affected individual. However, like any other treatment it also has some complications associated with. These complications vary with the type of therapy performed. Doctors before starting with the treatment discuss about all the complications in detail with the patient and parents (in case of teenager). Some of the frequently experienced complications for Ewing's sarcoma are:
- Heavy hair loss is a complication of Ewing's sarcoma.
- Fatigue or tiredness.
- Excess bleeding.
- Constant exposure to radiation causes skin irritation and rashes.
Prognosis/Outlook for Ewing's Sarcoma
The prognosis is good if the illness is found in very early stage. Ewing's sarcoma prognosis greatly depends on the following:
- Age and medical condition of the individual decides the prognosis/outcome for Ewing's sarcoma.
- Location and size of the malignant tumor.
- Severity of disease.
- Response of tumor against the therapy performed.
- Presence of metastasis.
- Acceptance of treatment.
Prognosis varies from one individual to another. Immediate medical help and therapies help in better outcome or prognosis. Every individual has a unique body structure, hence pattern of prognosis also depends on the patient's body structure. Some of the treatments shows it's effects months' after the treatment, this is commonly known as late effect treatment.
Lifestyle Changes for Ewing's Sarcoma
Adopting some basic lifestyle changes actually help in preventing Ewing's sarcoma, some of these changes are, healthy diet intake, regular exercise, avoid tobacco & smoking and have positive attitude towards life.
Coping With Ewing's Sarcoma
Teenagers who are detected with Ewing's sarcoma often need help for coping with the physical, emotional and social aspects of life. After treatment, side effects is a major source of concern for patients. Parents need to help them in coping with the side effects and should also handle them with care by providing emotional support. Another thing that bothers young patients is whether the treatment has completely eliminated cancer from their body or there is a possibility of reversal. Here also patients need to make their children realize that the treatment is very effective and will cure them completely.