What is Ewing's sarcoma?
This information has been written for patients, their families and friends and the general public to help you understand more about Ewing's sarcoma: what it is and the different types. This information is produced in accordance with BCRT's information policy.
The Ewing's family of tumours includes:
- Ewing's sarcoma is a kind of primary bone cancer.
- Extraosseous Ewing's sarcoma starts in soft tissue rather than bone.
- Askin tumour is Ewing's sarcoma that starts in the chest wall.
- Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumour is a kind of Ewing's sarcoma where the cells look like nerve cells when studied under the microscope.
Ewing's sarcomas is the second most commonly diagnosed primary bone cancer in young people, after osteosarcoma. Ewing's sarcoma can start anywhere in body, but more often it is found in the pelvis, the chest or in the bones of the legs, see figure 1.
Figure 1. Where does Ewing's Sarcoma occur most often?
Image by Hannah Thompson
Figure 2. What are the different parts of a long bone?
Image by Hannah Thompson
Ewing's sarcoma can quickly spread to other parts of the body and can sometimes come back after treatment (recur), and so patients require treatment to the whole body (systemic) as well as the site of the primary tumour.
Tumour cells can break away from the primary tumour and enter the blood supply or lymphatic (lim-FAT-ick) system. These tumour cells can travel to other parts of the body where they can settle and form new tumours called secondary tumours or metastases (met-AS-tasees). The tumour cells can also spread through the bone as the tumour grows.
The most common sites for secondary tumours are:
- The lungs
- Other bones
- The bone marrow
Treatment is usually a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. Wherever in the body Ewing's sarcoma starts, the treatment is the same (this is covered in more detail in the How is Ewing's sarcoma treated? section.
Ewing's sarcoma information Version 2, June 2013
Last reviewed: June 2013
Next review due: June 2015
The authors and reviewers of this information are committed to producing reliable, accurate and up to date content reflecting the best available research evidence, and best clinical practice. We aim to provide unbiased information free from any commercial conflicts of interest. This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. BCRT can answer questions about primary bone cancers, including treatments and research but we are unable to offer specific advice about individual patients. If you are worried about any symptoms please consult your doctor.