Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of bone or soft tissue cancer that primarily affects children. With treatment, doctors can often cure the disease. A person’s survival rate is also much higher if the tumor has not spread beyond where it started.

Some factors, such as the size of the tumor during diagnosis and where it occurs in the body, can affect the person’s outlook.

Most Ewing sarcoma tumors develop in the long bones of arms or legs, the pelvis, or soft tissues. Treatments include radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy.

A mother and child with curable Ewing sarcoma.Share on Pinterest
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A doctor may be able to cure Ewing sarcoma if they find it early and remove the tumor before it spreads.

Doctors can also treat Ewing sarcoma with several therapies. They might opt for chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of treatments for this cancer.

Treatment outcomes will depend on individual cases. Some factors with links to more positive outcomes include:

  • the tumor being smaller in size
  • the tumor being present in the arm or leg rather than the torso or pelvis
  • the person having typical levels of blood lactate dehydrogenase, an enzyme present in most body tissues
  • the tumor having shrunk in response to chemotherapy
  • the person being younger than 10 years of age

Survival rates

Ewing sarcoma has an overall 5-year relative survival rate of 62% for all stages combined. This survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of cancer with individuals in the overall population.

This means those who have Ewing sarcoma are, on average, about 62% as likely as those without this cancer type to live for at least 5 years following a diagnosis.

The table below shows the survival rates for each stage of Ewing sarcoma. The stages derive from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) model.

SEER stageStage description 5-year relative survival rate
localizedcancer is limited to one area and has not spread to other areas82%
regional cancer has spread outside the initial area and into nearby tissues or lymph nodes
distantcancer has spread to distant body parts, such as other organs

After diagnosing Ewing sarcoma, a doctor may recommend removing the tumor through surgery. They may also suggest radiation or chemotherapy to shrink it before or after surgery.

Other treatments a doctor may recommend include:

  • High dose chemotherapy with stem cell rescue: This method involves harvesting a person’s stem cells, freezing them, and reinjecting them into their body following chemotherapy. The stem cells can then form into and restore the body’s blood cells.
  • Targeted therapy: This is a new treatment that uses specific medications that attack cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy: Researchers are currently developing this treatment. It aims to boost a person’s immune system to fight cancer cells.
  • Chimeric antigen receptor T-call therapy: This is a developing therapy that changes immune cells, called T cells, to attack cancer cells.

Anyone with a history of cancer needs to have regular check-ups with a doctor.

During these regular check-ups, a doctor will ask questions to assess the person’s physical and mental health. They will also order blood tests and scans as necessary to check if the cancer has returned.

The schedule for visits depends on:

  • the type of cancer
  • treatment
  • an individual’s current health

Generally, a doctor will want to see someone recently cured of cancer every 3–4 months for the first 2–3 years. Following that, the visits will be once or twice per year.

Treatment for Ewing sarcoma may have long-term effects on a person’s health later in life.

In particular, young people may develop health issues after their treatment. However, this depends on many factors, such as the tumor size, the treatments, and the individual’s age.

Some possible late effects and complications of treatment can include:

  • problems with the heart or lungs
  • learning difficulties in younger children
  • slowed growth and development
  • changes in sexual development and fertility as they get older
  • development of a second cancer

If a person received surgery for an Ewing tumor, they may have to adjust to physical changes, such as scars or the loss of a limb.

This can take a while to adjust to, both emotionally and physically. However, a doctor can recommend rehabilitation programs.

There are organizations that provide support and information for anyone affected by Ewing sarcoma.

The American Cancer Society provides resources and support, particularly for those with Ewing sarcoma.

The National Cancer Institute provides information about Ewing sarcoma and what to expect from treatment.

Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions about Ewing sarcoma.

Who is most at risk for Ewing sarcoma?

Older children and teens are at the greatest risk for Ewing sarcoma. Still, it is a very rare cancer, only accounting for about 1% of all childhood cancer cases.

How fast does Ewing’s sarcoma grow?

Ewing tumors grow quickly. Pain or swelling may be the first sign of a tumor.

Can a child survive Ewing’s sarcoma?

Yes, a child may be able to survive Ewing’s sarcoma. New advancements in diagnosis and treatment have significantly improved the outlook for children with Ewing’s sarcoma.

Overall, around 82% of people with localized Ewing tumors survive at least 5 years after treatment, compared with the general population.

If Ewing sarcoma metastasizes, the 5-year survival rate is lower, between 39% and 70%.

Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of cancer that primarily affects older children and young adults. It comprises around 1% of all childhood cancers.

Ewing sarcoma has an overall 5-year survival rate of 62%, which improves to 80% with a localized tumor. If this cancer spreads to the immediate region, the survival rate is 70%. However, it falls to 39% if it spreads to distant body parts.

After diagnosis, treatment may include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments.