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Cancer Health Center

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Ewing's Sarcoma

What Are the Symptoms of Ewing's Sarcoma?

Many things, ranging from infections to accidental injuries, can cause symptoms that resemble the symptoms caused by Ewing's sarcoma. Because early diagnosis is important for successful treatment, any child with any of the following symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor.

  • Pain or swelling, most commonly in an arm or leg, chest, back, or pelvis; the pain gets progressively worse, and does not subside.
  • A swelling, which may or may not feel warm
  • Swelling and limited range of motion of a joint
  • Fever for no known reason
  • A bone that breaks with no apparent cause

Children often get lumps and bumps from play. But any lump or bump that doesn't quickly go away should be seen by a doctor.

A tumor that has spread can cause a child to feel very tired and to lose weight. If it has spread to the lungs, it can also cause breathlessness. Tumors near the spine can cause unexplained weakness or even paralysis.

If Ewing's sarcoma develops inside the chest wall, it's possible for the tumor to progress with no apparent symptoms until it has gotten very large and possibly spread.

How Does the Doctor Know if a Child Has Ewing's Sarcoma?

Ewing's sarcoma can only be confirmed with a biopsy of the tumor and testing for the change in DNA. But first the doctor will perform a series of procedures and tests. The results will be useful in determining the extent of the cancer if it is confirmed and the appropriate treatment.

The doctor will start with a physical exam and medical history to check for symptoms and other health issues. The doctor may ask for a complete blood count or CBC. If a tumor is eventually confirmed, abnormal levels of red blood cells and white blood cells will help determine whether or not the cancer has spread to the bone marrow.

The doctor will also ask for imaging tests if a lump has been found or other symptoms of a possible tumor have been identified during the exam. The tests might include:

  • X-rays to locate and identify a potential bone tumor
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which uses radio waves and strong magnets to create a more detailed image of a potential tumor seen on an X-ray
  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan to see if a tumor has spread to the lungs, liver, or lymph nodes
  • Bone scan, which uses an injected radioactive material and a special camera to identify potential spots in the skeleton where the cancer may have spread
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which also uses a radioactive material and special camera to identify other spots in the body that may have a tumor

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