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Ewing Sarcoma in Children

  • If your child has been diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, you’re no doubt feeling shocked and scared. And you probably have lots of questions, too: "Can the tumor be removed?" ... "Will my child need chemotherapy?" ... "What is his long-term prognosis?"

    Learning the basics about the condition will help you to prepare for the journey ahead.

    Ewing sarcoma:

    • is a cancer that usually grows in bone or in soft tissue around bone.
    • can occur in any bone, but is most often found in the “long bones,” such as the thigh, shin or upper arm.
    • can also affect the muscle and tissues around the area of the tumor.
    • can spread to the lungs and other bones.

    Usually, the larger the tumor is, the more difficult treatment will be. But rest assured that there is hope: Treatments for Ewing sarcoma have improved dramatically in recent years, and Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center has extensive experience with all of these treatment approaches. You and your child are in the very best of hands.

    How the Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s approaches Ewing sarcoma

    Here at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, our integrated pediatric oncology service offers—in one specialized program—the combined expertise of a leading cancer center and a premier children’s hospital. Above all, our experts recognize that your child is an individual (never “just a patient”), and we’re here to help your entire family at every step along the way.

    Even when a Ewing sarcoma is very small, it may have spread. For this reason, Ewing always requires treatment across the child’s entire body.

    • Treatment almost always starts with chemotherapy to destroy the tumor cells and prevent the cancer from spreading.
    • Surgery, radiation or a combination of both are used along with chemotherapy.
    • Most children respond very well to chemotherapy.
    • The 5-year cure rate for localized Ewing sarcoma (cancer that has not spread from the primary site) is 70 to 80 percent.

    The Dana-Farber/Boston Children's multidisciplinary team approach allows for comprehensive, whole-body treatment in a carefully developed and coordinated plan. If your child is diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, his care will involve the following specialists:

    • pediatric oncologists: doctors who completed special training and have extensive experience treating childhood cancers. Your child’s primary oncologist will outline and oversee all aspects of his treatment.
    • orthopedic surgeons: surgeons with special training in procedures on a child’s bones. The orthopedic surgeon will play a central role in any surgical treatment, including limb salvage or amputation surgery, for your child’s Ewing sarcoma. Our orthopedic surgeons who treat patients with Ewing sarcoma specialize in the treatment of bone cancer.
    • surgical oncologists: physicians who perform surgical treatments for cancer, including tumor removal and surgical biopsies
    • radiation oncologists: specially-trained physicians who use targeted radiation therapy to treat certain types of pediatric cancer
    • radiologists: doctors who use several imaging techniques to monitor your child’s cancer and the effects of treatment. Interventional radiologists also perform non-invasive biopsies.
    • physical therapists: professionals who will work with your child to help restore function, improve mobility, relieve pain and prevent or limit permanent physical disabilities from her Ewing sarcoma.
    • pediatric oncology nurses: highly skilled and experienced nurses who will work closely with all members of the team to plan and carry out your child's care. They’re specially certified to treat children with cancer, and they can teach you and your child about procedures, medical terms and medications, as well as provide general support.
    • Child Life specialists: professionals who enhance children's emotional, social and cognitive growth during a hospital stay, giving special consideration to each child's family, culture and stage of development.
    • psychologists and social workers: trained professionals who will offer emotional and mental health support for your child and family before, during and after treatment.

    "Although Ewing sarcoma is rare, we see many patients with these tumors. We are very familiar with diagnosing and treating this disease."

    Megan E. Anderson, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center

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