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Your child has been diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma. You are likely feeling shocked and scared. You are not alone. Support and treatment are available. Your child’s healthcare team will help you as you make important decisions regarding your child’s health.
Ewing sarcoma is a type of cancer that forms in bone or soft tissue, such as muscle. The cancer cells are fast-growing and can cause a tumor to grow anywhere in the skeleton. The tumor can spread (metastasize) to another part of the body, such as the lungs.
Children at any age can get Ewing sarcoma, but teenagers are affected most often. Ewing sarcoma is not contagious. This means your child can’t pass it to another person.
Ewing sarcoma occurs because cells grow abnormally. These cells then form a tumor. What causes the abnormal growth (mutation) of cells is not known.
Some common symptoms of Ewing sarcoma include fever, pain, and a lump or swelling in the arms, legs, chest, pelvis, or back. Your child may have experienced some of these symptoms, or other symptoms.
Your child’s healthcare provider examines your child. You will be asked about your child’s health history. Your child may also have one or more of the following:
Blood tests to take samples of blood to be tested.
Imaging tests to take detailed images of areas inside the body. These may include x-ray, MRI, CT scan, PET scan, or bone scan.
Bone marrow aspirations and biopsies to take samples of bone marrow from the hipbones and view them under a microscope
A biopsy to take a small sample of tissue from a tumor to look at it under a microscope
When determining the treatment plan and likely outcome (prognosis) for your child, the healthcare team takes into consideration the type of tumor your child has. Both treatment and prognosis depend on whether the tumor is localized (affects only one area of the body) or metastatic (has spread to another part of the body). Your child’s healthcare provider can tell you more about the kind of tumor your child has.
The goal of treatment is to remove or destroy cancer cells. The kind of treatment your child receives depends on the type of tumor your child has. Whether it’s localized or metastatic also matters. Your child may require one or more of these treatments:
Chemotherapy (“chemo”) to destroy cancer cells with powerful cancer-fighting medications. Multiple chemo medications may be used. They are given through a tube (IV) that’s usually put into a vein in the arm or chest. Or, they may be given by mouth or injection.
Surgery to remove all or part of a tumor.
Radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells and shrink a tumor using high-energy x-rays. Radiation may be used before or after other treatments.
The goal of supportive treatments is to protect the child from infection, prevent discomfort, and bring the body’s blood counts to a healthy range. During your child’s treatment, he or she may be given antibiotics. These are medications that help prevent and fight infection. Anti-nausea and other medications may also be given. These help ease side effects caused by treatment. Your child may receive a blood transfusion to restore the blood cells destroyed by treatment. Blood is taken from a donor and stored until the child is ready to receive it.
Your child may need physical therapy. This is to get the body functioning normally after treatment. Also, chemotherapy and radiation may cause some problems, such as damage to certain organs. So your child’s health will need to be monitored for life. This may include clinic visits, blood tests, imaging tests, and ultrasounds of the heart.
Receiving a cancer diagnosis for your child is scary and confusing. It’s important to remember that you are not alone. Your child’s healthcare team will work with you and your child throughout your child’s illness and care. You may also wish to seek information and support for yourself. Doing so can help you cope with the changes cancer brings. Learning about and talking with others who also have a child with cancer may help you and your family cope. Some helpful resources include:
Sarcoma Foundation of Americawww.curesarcoma.org