Ewing Sarcoma

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Pictured: Leonard Wexler & Joanna Moulton

Pediatric oncologist Leonard Wexler with nurse practitioner Joanna Moulton.

What is Ewing sarcoma?

Ewing sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that most often affects children and teenagers. It commonly affects bones — such as the ribs, upper arm bone, thighbone, and pelvic bone — but can also affect soft tissues, such as those in the pelvis or chest. Ewing sarcoma can cause pain and swelling. It’s common for children to get painful bumps while playing, but a doctor should look at any bump that doesn’t go away.

Named after an MSK Doctor

The MSK Kids team sees more patients with Ewing sarcoma than doctors at any other hospital in the world. The tumor was actually named after an MSK pathologist, James Ewing, in 1921. Years later, our doctors were the first to identify certain genetic changes that are unique to Ewing sarcoma. Today, that genetic testing is used to determine if a cancer is indeed Ewing sarcoma.

Who gets Ewing sarcoma?

Ewing sarcoma affects 300 to 400 people in the United States each year. It usually develops in people between age 10 and 30, but it can occur in those who are younger as well as others up to age 40. It is slightly more common in boys and is more frequently seen in white people than in African Americans and Asian Americans. Ewing sarcoma symptoms may include persistent pain and/or a bump or mass that keeps getting bigger.

Is Ewing sarcoma similar to osteosarcoma?

These two cancers are very different. Ewing sarcoma is very responsive to radiation therapy, while osteosarcoma (sarcoma of the bone) is very resistant to radiation therapy. Ewing sarcoma looks very different under a microscope and on imaging scans and is treated using different chemotherapy than that used for osteosarcoma.

Come to the Experts

Ewing sarcoma is the second most common bone cancer in children after osteosarcoma. But it accounts for just 1 percent of all pediatric cancers. Many healthcare professionals may rarely see patients with the disease. MSK Kids sarcoma experts routinely treat people with Ewing sarcoma.