Bone cancer

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Treatment of Ewing sarcoma of the bone

The following are treatment options for all stages of Ewing sarcoma of the bone. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.

Rather than using the standard staging system, a simpler system is often used when deciding treatment for Ewing sarcoma. This system divides Ewing sarcoma of the bone into 2 groups: localized and metastatic.

Localized Ewing sarcoma

With localized Ewing sarcoma, the cancer is only in the bone where it started and it has not spread to nearby lymph nodes. There is often a mass or tumour in the soft tissue near the affected bone.

  • Chemotherapy is the primary treatment for localized Ewing sarcoma.
    • Chemotherapy is used because most people who appear to have localized disease have hidden (occult) metastatic disease.
    • Chemotherapy is given before surgery or radiation therapy to:
    • It is also given after surgery or radiation therapy to kill all remaining cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy may be offered for localized Ewing sarcoma.
    • Radiation is used instead of surgery if the tumour is in a location that makes it inoperable or if surgery would compromise the function.
    • It may be given after surgery if the margins contain cancer cells or the surgeon could not remove a wide margin around the tumour.
  • Surgery may be offered for localized Ewing sarcoma following chemotherapy.
    • The types of surgery that may be done include:
      • limb-sparing surgery
      • amputation
      • reconstruction

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Metastatic Ewing sarcoma

Metastatic Ewing sarcoma has already spread to distant parts of the body at the time of diagnosis. It usually spreads to the lungs, other bones or the bone marrow.

  • Chemotherapy is usually the first treatment for metastatic Ewing sarcoma.
  • Radiation therapy may be given to the primary tumour and to the metastases.
    • Whole-lung radiation therapy may be given if there is lung metastasis.
  • Surgery may be used to remove any visible Ewing sarcoma.

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Recurrent Ewing sarcoma

Recurrent Ewing sarcoma means that the bone cancer has come back (has recurred) after it was treated. In rare cases, it may recur in the same location as the original cancer (local recurrence). Usually it recurs in another part of the body (metastatic cancer), most commonly the lungs.

Treatment of recurrent Ewing sarcoma of the bone depends on the location and extent of the recurrence and the type of treatment the person had the first time. Treatment is based on each person’s individual needs.

  • Chemotherapy may be offered for recurrent Ewing sarcoma.
  • Radiation therapy may be given for recurrent Ewing sarcoma.
    • It may be used to reduce symptoms of bone lesions.

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Clinical trials

People with Ewing sarcoma of the bone may be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. For more information, go to clinical trials.

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Cancer cells that have spread from the original (primary) site to other parts of the body in such small amounts that screening or diagnostic tests cannot find them.


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