Surgery is a standard treatment option for Ewing sarcoma, a rare bone cancer mainly affecting children and young people. Surgery aims to directly remove the tumor or tumors from the body.
This article discusses surgery for Ewing sarcoma, including its types, what to expect, and outlook.
Ewing sarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, or Ewing tumors most commonly occur in the bones of the arms, legs, chest, spine, or pelvis.
Ewing sarcomas may also affect soft tissue, including muscle, fat, blood vessels, nerves, tendons, and joints. Less often, the tumors can develop in the head and neck.
A doctor may recommend surgery for
- to diagnose Ewing sarcoma and assess the stage and size of the tumor
- to remove the tumor, also called a surgical resection
A surgical resection aims to treat Ewing sarcoma by removing as much of the tumor as possible without harming the bone, cartilage, and surrounding tissue.
Surgery for tumors in the arms or legs
Doctors may recommend the following procedures for a tumor in the arm or leg.
This procedure aims to remove the affected bone while leaving the limb intact. It
Doctors may also be able to replace it with another bone from elsewhere in the body, called a bone graft. This is a complex procedure, but it means the person will still have a functioning limb.
Although not a surgical procedure, doctors
For example, a doctor may not be able to remove a tumor that extends into important blood vessels or nerves without severely damaging the limb.
Radiation therapy may be able to shrink the tumor enough for the doctor to recommend surgery.
This may be the best option in some cases, particularly if the cancer has returned or previous radiation therapy was unsuccessful.
After amputation, a person may be able to receive a prosthetic limb.
Ewing tumors in the chest wall
Surgeons must remove the tumor and the affected areas and may also need to remove nearby ribs. They can replace these with artificial ribs.
If the tumor has spread to the lungs, a doctor may recommend a thoracotomy. This involves opening the chest can and removing the tumors from the lungs.
Tumors in or near the spine can be difficult to remove altogether, and doctors may recommend radiation therapy as an alternative to surgery.
However, if the tumor is compressing the spinal cord and there is a risk of neurological effects, some professionals may order emergency surgery.
If a person does receive surgery, doctors may perform radiation therapy afterward to treat any remaining tumor cells.
It can be
However, if the tumor shrinks in response to chemotherapy, they may consider surgery followed by radiation therapy.
Doctors may have to remove pelvic bones, but they can sometimes reconstruct them following surgery. Sometimes, a surgeon may have to amputate a leg alongside removing some of the pelvic bones.
Surgery for Ewing sarcoma can involve some risks and side effects, such as:
Additionally, those with limb-sparing surgery
Amputation may have psychosocial side effects, such as an altered body image or reduced self-esteem. However, learning to use prostheses and adjusting to life with an amputated limb can improve these side effects over time.
Every surgery is different, but people undergoing any complex surgery will receive a general anesthetic and be unconscious during the procedure.
A medical team will make sure the person and their family are familiar with the specific process and recovery.
There will be a long-term follow-up, with medical professionals closely monitoring a person’s progress.
Surgery aims to improve the outlook of a person with Ewing sarcoma. It can potentially prolong a person’s life and alleviate symptoms of the disease.
However, the outlook after surgery will differ from person to person. Multiple factors may affect a person’s outlook after surgery, including:
- tumor size
- how far cancer has spread, called metastasis
- how the cancer responds to chemotherapy
Individuals who undergo surgery for Ewing tumors will need long-term follow-up care to monitor for any further issues.
Support for those with Ewing sarcoma
Many organizations offer support for people with Ewing sarcoma and their families. A person can visit the following sites for information and advice:
This section answers some common questions about surgery for Ewing sarcoma.
What is the best treatment for Ewing sarcoma?
Where possible, surgery to completely remove the tumor is
However, the best treatment depends on the person’s individual case. Some people are not eligible for surgery — in these cases, doctors
Can Ewing sarcoma be cured without surgery?
For those who are unable to undergo surgery, doctors may recommend chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
However, whether or not this cures the cancer depends on multiple factors, such as the size, stage, and location of the tumor, as well as the person’s age and overall health.
A person should consult a medical professional for an in-depth outlook on an individual case.
Surgery plays an important part in treating Ewing sarcoma by aiming to completely remove the tumor and the affected areas.
Surgeons may need to remove a bone to do this. They will replace the bone with artificial material or a bone graft.
Rarely, a person may require limb amputation.
The outcomes of surgery largely rely on the location, size, and stage of the tumor, alongside the person’s age and overall health.