Skip to Content
Top

At MD Anderson's Children's Cancer Hospital, each child with Ewing's sarcoma has a team of highly specialized experts who customize your child's treatment to ensure the most effective therapy with the least impact on the body – now and in the future.

At MD Anderson's Children's Cancer Hospital, each child with Ewing's sarcoma has a team of highly specialized experts who customize your child's treatment to ensure the most effective therapy with the least impact on the body – now and in the future.

Support Programs

Help is available as soon as you arrive at MD Anderson. Social workers, patient advocates and chaplains are here to make sure your experience is the best it can be. 

Cancer has taught me true grit and the real definition of determination.

Shelby Robin

Survivor

Ewing's sarcoma is rare, and many doctors have little experience with treating it. Our physicians are among the world's most highly trained and experienced in treating Ewing's. This can translate into a better outcome in many cases.

Diagnosis and treatment

Accurate diagnosis of Ewing's sarcoma can be challenging, but it is essential to successful treatment. Our pathologists are dedicated to sarcoma, and they use the latest, most-sophisticated tests to pinpoint the type and extent of the cancer.

Ewing's sarcoma often requires a multi-therapy approach. Using the latest advances in complex limb-sparing surgeries, our surgeons are often able to avoid amputation if the cancer is in an arm or leg. If amputation is needed, we offer specialized rehabilitation.

Advancing research

Many children with Ewing's sarcoma are treated with clinical trials. We participate in trials of the Children's Oncology Group and offer other innovative therapies available at only a few hospitals in the nation. Our researchers have helped make many advances, including using drug combinations to treat Ewing's sarcoma.

Our Osteosarcoma and Ewing's Sarcoma Center coordinates care and streamlines and speeds access to clinical trials. In addition, sarcoma researchers work with physicians to translate laboratory research into new clinical trials, which are especially beneficial for patients with relapsed or refractorysarcoma.

Comprehensive care

Children's Cancer Hospital is designed just for children, with a full range of services and amenities that help make the child and family's experience as comfortable as possible. We go beyond medical care to deliver a comprehensive experience that treats the whole child. And at Children's Cancer Hospital, you're surrounded by the strength of one of the nation's top cancer centers.

If your child has been diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, we're here to help. Call 877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

MD Anderson's Children's Cancer Hospital

Ewing's Sarcoma Facts

Ewing's sarcomas, or Ewing's tumors, are a category of cancers that form in the bones or soft tissues. According to the American Cancer Society, about 225 children and teens are diagnosed annually with the disease in North America. They account for about 1 percent of pediatric cancers.

Ewing's sarcomas usually form in the pelvis (hip bones), chest (ribs or shoulder blades) or legs, particularly the long bones. Rarely, tumors grow in the skull or flat bones of the trunk.

Researchers have found that Ewing's sarcomas are caused by genetic changes that happen after birth. However, it is not known why some people develop the disease. It is not passed down in families.

About two-thirds of Ewing's sarcoma patients become long-term survivors of the disease.

Ewing's sarcoma types

Ewing's sarcomas are categorized into three types. While each type is slightly different, they all are caused by the same gene abnormalities and are treated in the same way.

  • Ewing's sarcoma of the bone: This is the most common type of Ewing's sarcoma.
  • Extraosseous Ewing tumor (EOE): These tumors form in soft tissues around bones.
  • Peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PPNET): An extremely rare type of cancer, these tumors share certain characteristics with Ewing's sarcoma of the bone and EOE.

If your child has been diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, we're here to help. Call 866-348-3095 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Ewing's sarcoma risk factors

Although the exact cause of Ewing's sarcoma is not known, certain things seem to put people at higher risk of developing the disease.

  • Gender: More males that females develop Ewing's sarcoma.
  • Race: Children who are white (non-Hispanic or Hispanic) are at higher risk. Ewing's sarcoma is very rare in other races.
  • Age: Ewing's sarcoma usually develops in teenagers.

In rare cases, Ewing's sarcoma can be passed down from one generation to the next. Genetic counseling may be right for you. Visit our genetic testing page to learn more.

Did You Know?

About 250 children are diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma in the United States each year.

Ewing's Sarcoma Symptoms

The symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma vary from person to person. Usually, the first symptom is pain where the tumor is located. The pain, which often gets worse at night or during exercise, may be from the tumor growing or a fracture in a bone that has been weakened by the tumor.

Other signs of Ewing's sarcoma include:

  • Lump, swelling or tenderness at the tumor site
  • Fever
  • Broken bone after a minor accident or normal activity
  • Fatigue
  • Walking with a limp
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis of arms and legs if tumor has spread near the spine
  • Shortness of breath, if Ewing's sarcoma has spread to the lungs

These symptoms do not always mean your child has Ewing's sarcoma. Many of the signs are similar to normal minor problems many children have. However, it's a good idea to speak to your doctor, since these problems may signal other health issues.

Ewing's Sarcoma Diagnosis

An accurate and comprehensive diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma is essential to successful treatment. At MD Anderson’s Children’s Cancer Hospital, our specialized pediatric sarcoma team – including dedicated surgeons, oncologists and pathologists – has incredible expertise and experience in pinpointing this type of cancer in children.

A definitive diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma begins with a biopsy of the tumor. If at all possible, this first biopsy should be at the cancer center where your child will receive treatment.

Diagnostic tests

If your child has symptoms that may signal Ewing’s sarcoma, the doctor will examine your child and ask you questions about your child’s health and your family medical history.

One or more of the following diagnostic tests may be done to find out if your child has Ewing’s sarcoma and if it has spread. They also may be done to find out if treatment is helping.

Biopsy: A biopsy, which removes a tiny piece of bone or soft tissue, is always needed to diagnose Ewing’s sarcoma. This is the only way to find out for certain if the tumor is cancer or another bone or soft tissue disease. It is very important for the biopsy to be done by someone with experience in diagnosing and treating Ewing’s sarcoma.

There are two types of bone biopsy:

  • Needle biopsy: A large, hollow needle is inserted through the skin to the area of bone or soft tissue to be tested. The needle removes a cylindrical sample of tissue to look at under a microscope. CT (computed tomography) scans may be used to help guide the needle.
  • Open or surgical biopsy: An incision (cut) is made, and the surgeon removes a tiny piece of the tumor to examine with a microscope. Rarely, the entire tumor may be removed.

Your child’s doctor will decide which type of biopsy is best based on several factors, including the type and location of the tumor. If possible, the surgeon who performs the biopsy should do the surgery to remove the cancer.

Imaging tests may be used before or after biopsy to pinpoint the location of the tumor and find out if it has spread. They may include:

  • CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
  • PET (positron emission tomography) scans
  • X-rays
  • Bone scan

Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy

Genetic tests

Blood tests

Getting a second opinion at MD Anderson

The experts at Children’s Cancer Hospital are highly specialized in diagnosing and staging Ewing’s sarcoma. We welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions.

If you would like to get a second opinion at MD Anderson, call 866-348-3095 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Ewing's Sarcoma Treatment

The experts at MD Anderson's Children's Cancer Hospital take the extra time and effort to personalize treatment for each child with Ewing's sarcoma. A highly specialized team of some of the world's top physicians follows your child throughout treatment, ensuring the best chance of successful treatment with the least impact on your child's growing body.

Ewing's sarcoma is rare, and most oncologists have little experience treating it. Studies show that sarcoma patients have better outcomes when they are treated at large, comprehensive cancer centers. Our physicians treat a large number of patients with Ewing's sarcoma, which translates to a remarkable level of skill and expertise.

Surgical expertise

Since Ewing's sarcoma usually requires multiple approaches, a comprehensive team approach is crucial. At the Children's Cancer Hospital, your child is the focus of a group of physicians, including surgeons, oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists. They are supported by specially trained rehabilitation specialists, therapists, nurses and other health care professionals who work together to ensure your child receives the best care.

Ewing's sarcoma treatment often includes surgery. Our surgeons are among the nation's most skilled. They use the most up-to-date techniques and technologies, including limb-sparing surgeries, so most patients can avoid the loss of an arm or leg. If limb-sparing surgery is not an option, Children's Cancer Center offers the most-advanced prostheses.

Leading-edge research

Many Ewing's sarcoma patients at Children's Cancer Hospital are treated with innovative agents as part of clinical trials. We participate in Children's Oncology Group protocols, as well as other clinical trials available at only a few hospitals in the nation.

If your child has been diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, we're here to help. Call 866-348-3095 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Our Ewing's sarcoma treatments

If your child is diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, the doctor will talk to your family about the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including the size and location of the cancer, if it has spread, and your child's age and general health.

At Children's Cancer Hospital, we design a course of treatment customized specially for your child's needs. One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.

Chemotherapy

In most Ewing's sarcoma cases, small areas of cancer have spread to other parts of the body. They are called micrometastases. These areas usually do not show up in imaging tests.

For that reason chemotherapy, which travels to all parts of the body, is almost always the first part of the treatment for Ewing's sarcoma. Usually, it is followed by surgery and/or radiation therapy and further chemotherapy. Children's Cancer Hospital offers the most up-to-date and advanced chemotherapy options.

Targeted therapies

Children's Cancer Hospital is leading into the future of cancer treatment by developing innovative targeted therapies. These agents are specially designed to treat each cancer's specific genetic/molecular profile to help the body fight the disease. Many of the doctors who treat Ewing's sarcoma at Children's Cancer Hospital are dedicated researchers who have pioneered and actively lead national and international clinical trials with novel targeted agents.

Surgery

Because Ewing's sarcoma can be found in a number of places throughout the body, several types of surgery may be used to treat it. Your doctor will talk to you about the best type of surgery for your child's particular needs and possible side effects.

Surgery to treat Ewing's sarcoma attempts to remove as much of the tumor as possible without harming surrounding areas.

At Children's Cancer Hospital, our specialized orthopedic surgeons are often able to avoid amputation when the tumor is in an arm or leg. Complex limb-sparing surgery removes the tumor, but saves the tendons, nerves and blood vessels. Any bone that is removed is replaced with a bone graft or an internal prosthesis, which is similar to an artificial joint.

Like all surgeries, Ewing's sarcoma surgery is most successful when performed by a specialist with a great deal of experience in the particular procedure. Children's Cancer Hospital surgeons are some of the most skilled and recognized in the world. They are among the few surgeons in the world who specialize in pediatric sarcoma treatment, and they use the least-invasive and most-advanced techniques designed especially for children.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) uses high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells. New radiation therapy techniques and remarkable skill allow Children's Cancer Hospital doctors to target tumors more precisely, delivering the maximum amount of radiation with the least damage to healthy cells. This is particularly important to growing bodies.

Children's Cancer Hospital provides the most-advanced radiation treatments, including:

  • 3D-conformal radiation therapy
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy

Proton therapy

Proton therapy delivers high radiation doses directly into the tumor, sparing nearby healthy tissue and vital organs. For many patients, this results in better cancer control with less impact on the body.

The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson is one of the world's largest and most advanced centers. It's the only proton therapy facility in the country located within a comprehensive cancer center. This means this cutting-edge therapy is backed by all the expertise and compassionate care for which MD Anderson is famous.

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to Ewing's sarcoma clinical trials offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about Ewing's sarcoma in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.

myCancerConnection

Talk to someone who shares your cancer diagnosis and be matched with a survivor.
 

Prevention & Screening

Many cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes and regular screening.
 

Counseling

MD Anderson has licensed social workers to help patients and their loved ones cope with cancer.

BY Cynthia DeMarco

In many ways, Jacob Ballard is a typical teenager. He likes soccer, is fascinated by robots and enjoys spending time with his friends.

But in some ways, the 17-year-old cancer survivor is completely different.

Since he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in November 2014, Jacob has spent more than 120 days in the hospital and received more than 160 doses of chemotherapy. In March 2015, he also had an internal type I/II hemipelvectomy...