National Cancer Institute
Posted Date: Aug 6, 2007
Note: The health professional version of this summary was extensively revised in July 2007. The patient version of this summary will reflect these changes shortly.
The Ewing family of tumors include: Ewing tumor of bone; extraosseous Ewing (tumor growing outside of the bone); primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET), also known as peripheral neuroepithelioma; and Askin's tumor (PNET of the chest wall). These tumors are rare diseases in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the bone and soft tissues. Ewing family of tumors most frequently occurs in teenagers.
If a patient has symptoms (such as pain, stiffness, or tenderness in the bone) the doctor may order x-rays and other tests. The doctor may also cut out a piece of tissue from the affected area. This is called a biopsy. The tissue will be looked at under a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells. This test may be done in the hospital.
The chance of recovery (prognosis) and choice of treatment depend on the location, size, and stage of the cancer (how far the cancer has spread), how the cancer cells react to the treatment, and the patient's age and general health.
Once one of the Ewing family of tumors has been found, more tests will be done to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. This is called staging. At present, there is no formal staging system for the Ewing family of tumors. Instead, most patients are grouped depending on whether cancer is found in only one part of the body (localized disease) or whether cancer has spread from one part of the body to another (metastatic disease). Extraosseous Ewing has been grouped using the rhabdomyosarcoma staging system because they are both soft tissue tumors. (Refer to the PDQ® summary on Rhabdomyosarcoma Treatment for more information.) Your doctor needs to know where the cancer is located and how far the disease has spread to plan treatment. The following groups are used for the Ewing family of tumors.
The cancer cells have spread from the bone in which the cancer began to other parts of the body. The cancer most often spreads to the lung, other bones, and bone marrow (the spongy tissue inside of the large bones of your body that makes red blood cells). Spread of cancer to the lymph nodes (small bean-shaped structures found throughout your body which produce and store infection-fighting cells) or the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) is less common.
It is important for patients to be evaluated by several specialists as early as possible so that treatment may be coordinated effectively from the beginning. These specialists may include: a radiologist, chemotherapist, pathologist, surgeon, or orthopedic oncologist and a radiation oncologist. Before treatment decisions are made patients will probably be required to undergo several diagnostic tests including tissue sampling, x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, and computed tomography (CT) scans.
There are treatments for all patients with one of the Ewing family of tumors. Three kinds of treatment are used:
- Surgery (taking out the cancer in an operation)
- Radiation therapy (using high-dose x-rays to kill cancer cells)
- Chemotherapy (using drugs to kill cancer cells)
Surgery may be used in certain cases to try to remove the cancer and some of the tissue around it. Surgery may also be used to remove any tumor that is left after chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy uses x-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation for the Ewing family of tumors usually comes from a machine outside the body (external radiation therapy). Clinical trials are evaluating radiation given inside the body during surgery (intraoperative radiation therapy).
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by pill, or it may be put into the body by a needle in a vein or muscle. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drug enters the blood stream, travels through the body, and can kill cancer cells throughout the body. When more than one drug is given to kill tumor cells, the treatment is called combination chemotherapy. Treatment for the Ewing family of tumors may include surgery or radiation to remove or shrink the tumor as much as possible, followed by chemotherapy to kill any cancer cells that remain in the body.
A supplement to the treatment options listed above is myeloablative therapy with stem cell support. Myeloablative therapy is a very intense regimen of chemotherapy designed to destroy all cells that divide rapidly. These cells include some blood cells and hair cells, as well as malignant (cancer) cells. Stem cells are self-renewing cells that create all of the other various types of blood cells. Stem cell support involves enriching the stem cells to increase the number of these important cells circulating in the blood after the chemotherapy has been given to kill the remaining tumor cells.
Treatment for the Ewing family of tumors depends on where the cancer is located, how far the cancer has spread, the stage of the disease, and the age and general health of the patient.
A patient may receive treatment that is considered standard based on its effectiveness in a number of patients in past studies, or may choose to go into a clinical trial. Not all patients are cured with standard therapy and some standard treatments may have more side effects than are desired. For these reasons, clinical trials are designed to find better ways to treat cancer patients and are based on the most up-to-date information. Clinical trials for the Ewing family of tumors are ongoing in many parts of the country. If you want more information, call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237); TTY at 1-800-332-8615.
- A clinical trial of chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy
- Combination chemotherapy followed by surgery with or without radiation therapy
- A clinical trial of intensified chemotherapy
- A randomized trial of post-surgical chemotherapy with or without stem cell transplant
Check for clinical trials from NCI's PDQ® Cancer Clinical Trials Registry that are now accepting patients with localized Ewing sarcoma/peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumor.
- Combination chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy and/or surgery
- High-dose chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy plus additional stem cell support
Check for clinical trials from NCI's PDQ® Cancer Clinical Trials Registry that are now accepting patients with metastatic Ewing sarcoma/peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumor.
Treatment depends on where the cancer recurred, how the cancer was treated before, as well as individual patient factors. Chemotherapy may be used for patients who did not receive previous chemotherapy. Radiation treatment may be given to reduce symptoms. Surgery may be used to remove tumors that have spread to the lungs or other organs. Clinical trials are testing new treatments.
Check for clinical trials from NCI's PDQ® Cancer Clinical Trials Registry that are now accepting patients with recurrent Ewing sarcoma/peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumor.
Editorial changes were made to this summary to match those made to the health professional version. Extensive content revisions to match those made to the health professional version will follow shortly.
For more information, U.S. residents may call the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Deaf and hard-of-hearing callers with TTY equipment may call 1-800-332-8615. The call is free and a trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
The NCI's LiveHelp online chat service provides Internet users with the ability to chat online with an Information Specialist. The service is available from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. Information Specialists can help Internet users find information on NCI Web sites and answer questions about cancer.
Write to us
- NCI Public Inquiries Office
- Suite 3036A
- 6116 Executive Boulevard, MSC8322
- Bethesda, MD 20892-8322
Search the NCI Web site
The NCI Web site provides online access to information on cancer, clinical trials, and other Web sites and organizations that offer support and resources for cancer patients and their families. For a quick search, use our Best Bets search box in the upper right hand corner of each Web page. The results that are most closely related to your search term will be listed as Best Bets at the top of the list of search results.
There are also many other places to get materials and information about cancer treatment and services. Hospitals in your area may have information about local and regional agencies that have information on finances, getting to and from treatment, receiving care at home, and dealing with problems related to cancer treatment.
The NCI has booklets and other materials for patients, health professionals, and the public. These publications discuss types of cancer, methods of cancer treatment, coping with cancer, and clinical trials. Some publications provide information on tests for cancer, cancer causes and prevention, cancer statistics, and NCI research activities. NCI materials on these and other topics may be ordered online or printed directly from the NCI Publications Locator. These materials can also be ordered by telephone from the Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), TTY at 1-800-332-8615.
PDQ® is a comprehensive cancer database available on NCI's Web site.
PDQ® is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) comprehensive cancer information database. Most of the information contained in PDQ® is available online at NCI's Web site. PDQ® is provided as a service of the NCI. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health, the federal government's focal point for biomedical research.
PDQ® contains cancer information summaries.
The PDQ® database contains summaries of the latest published information on cancer prevention, detection, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most summaries are available in two versions. The health professional versions provide detailed information written in technical language. The patient versions are written in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language. Both versions provide current and accurate cancer information.
The PDQ® cancer information summaries are developed by cancer experts and reviewed regularly.
Editorial Boards made up of experts in oncology and related specialties are responsible for writing and maintaining the cancer information summaries. The summaries are reviewed regularly and changes are made as new information becomes available. The date on each summary ("Date Last Modified") indicates the time of the most recent change.
PDQ® also contains information on clinical trials.
A clinical trial is a study to answer a scientific question, such as whether one treatment is better than another. Trials are based on past studies and what has been learned in the laboratory. Each trial answers certain scientific questions in order to find new and better ways to help cancer patients. During treatment clinical trials, information is collected about the effects of a new treatment and how well it works. If a clinical trial shows that a new treatment is better than one currently being used, the new treatment may become "standard." In the United States, about two-thirds of children with cancer are treated in a clinical trial at some point in their illness.
Listings of clinical trials are included in PDQ® and are available online at NCI's Web site. Descriptions of the trials are available in health professional and patient versions. For additional help in locating a childhood cancer clinical trial, call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), TTY at 1-800-332-8615.
The PDQ® database contains listings of groups specializing in clinical trials.
The Children's Oncology Group (COG) is the major group that organizes clinical trials for childhood cancers in the United States. Information about contacting COG is available on the NCI Web site or from the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), TTY at 1-800-332-8615.
The PDQ® database contains listings of cancer health professionals and hospitals with cancer programs.
Because cancer in children and adolescents is rare, the majority of children with cancer are treated by health professionals specializing in childhood cancers, at hospitals or cancer centers with special facilities to treat them. The PDQ® database contains listings of health professionals who specialize in childhood cancer and listings of hospitals with cancer programs. For help locating childhood cancer health professionals or a hospital with cancer programs, call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), TTY at 1-800-332-8615.
October 03, 2014
November 25, 2015