Ewing Sarcoma: Treatment Choices
There are many treatment choices for Ewing sarcoma. Which may work best? It depends on a number of factors. These include the type, size, and location of the cancer, if it has spread to other parts of the body, and you or your child's age and overall health.
Learning about your treatment options
You may have questions and concerns about treatment options. You may also want to know how you or your child will feel and function after treatment. You may also want to know if treatment will lead to changes in your normal activities.
Your healthcare provider is the best person to answer your questions. He or she can tell you what the treatment choices are, how successful they’re expected to be, and what the risks and side effects are. Your provider may suggest a specific treatment. Or he or she may offer more than 1, and ask you to decide which one you’d like to use. It can be hard to make this decision. It’s important to take the time you need to make the best decision.
Deciding on the best plan may take some time. Talk with your healthcare provider about how much time you can take to explore your options. You may want to get another opinion before deciding on a treatment plan. You may also want to include your family and friends in this process.
Understanding the goals of treatment for Ewing sarcoma
The main goal in treating Ewing sarcoma is to try to cure the cancer. If cure isn’t possible, treatment may shrink the cancer or keep it under control for as long as possible. Treatment can also improve quality of life. It does this by helping to control the symptoms of the disease. The goals of treatment can include 1 or more of these things:
Remove the main tumor
Remove or destroy tumors in other parts of the body
Stop or slow the growth and spread of cancer cells
Prevent or delay the cancer from coming back
Ease symptoms from the cancer, such as pain or pressure on organs
As much as possible, other treatment goals include keeping normal function of the affected part of the body and limiting long-term side effects and complications.
Types of treatment for Ewing sarcoma
Many different types of treatment can be used for Ewing sarcoma. In most cases, a combination of treatments is used to make sure all of the cancer cells have been removed or destroyed.
Chemotherapy (chemo) is often the first treatment for Ewing sarcoma. The goal of chemo is to kill cancer cells and stop the cancer from growing or spreading. The medicines are given into the bloodstream so they can reach cancer cells all over the body.
Chemo is an important part of the treatment for Ewing sarcoma. This is because even if it looks like the cancer is only in the bone, cancer cells have often already spread to other parts of the body.
Chemo also can help shrink the tumor to make it easier to treat with surgery or radiation.
Surgery is another important part of the treatment for Ewing sarcoma. It’s often done after chemo (and sometimes after radiation). The goal of surgery is to take out the entire tumor and any cancer cells that may have spread to nearby tissue. Sometimes, surgery might also be used to treat cancer that’s spread to other parts of the body.
Radiation uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. It might be used before surgery to help shrink the tumor. After surgery, it can be used to kill any cancer cells that may be left behind. It can also be used to treat areas of cancer spread in other parts of the body.
High-dose chemo and stem cell transplant
This type of treatment might be an option if other treatments have not cured the cancer. The goal is to destroy all of the cancer cells in the body. First, very high doses of chemo are given. This is followed by an infusion of blood stem cells. The stem cells help rebuild the bone marrow, which is where new blood cells are made.
Clinical trials for new treatments
Researchers are always looking for new ways to treat Ewing sarcoma. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out if there are any clinical trials you should consider.
Talking with your healthcare provider
At first, thinking about treatment options may seem overwhelming. Talk with your healthcare providers and loved ones. Make a list of questions. Consider the benefits and possible side effects of each option. Understand the long-term changes that each treatment could cause. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before making a decision.