The National Cancer Institute provides the PDQ pediatric cancer treatment information summaries as a public service to increase the availability of evidence-based cancer information to health professionals, patients, and the public.
Fortunately, cancer in children and adolescents is rare, although the overall incidence of childhood cancer has been slowly increasing since 1975. Children and adolescents with cancer should be referred to medical centers that have a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists with experience treating the cancers that occur during childhood and adolescence. This multidisciplinary team approach incorporates the skills of the primary care physician, pediatric surgical subspecialists, radiation oncologists, pediatric oncologists/hematologists, rehabilitation specialists, pediatric nurse specialists, social workers, and others to ensure that children receive treatment, supportive care, and rehabilitation that will achieve optimal survival and quality of life. Refer to the PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care summaries for specific information about supportive care for children and adolescents with cancer.
Palliative care helps relieve symptoms that bother the patient and helps improve the patient's quality of life.
The goal of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. Palliative care is meant to prevent or treat symptoms, side effects, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems caused by a disease or its treatment.
Palliative care for patients with advanced cancer includes nutrition therapy (see the Treatment of Symptoms...
Guidelines for pediatric cancer centers and their role in the treatment of pediatric patients with cancer have been outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics. At these pediatric cancer centers, clinical trials are available for most types of cancer that occur in children and adolescents, and the opportunity to participate in these trials is offered to most patients/families. Clinical trials for children and adolescents with cancer are generally designed to compare potentially better therapy with therapy that is currently accepted as standard. Most of the progress made in identifying curative therapies for childhood cancers has been achieved through clinical trials. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved for children and adolescents with cancer. Between 1975 and 2002, childhood cancer mortality has decreased by more than 50%. For Ewing sarcoma, the 5-year survival rate has increased over the same time from 59% to 76% for children younger than 15 years and from 20% to 49% for adolescents aged 15 to 19 years. Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close follow-up because cancer therapy side effects may persist or develop months or years after treatment. Refer to the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for specific information about the incidence, type, and monitoring of late effects in childhood and adolescent cancer survivors.
Origin and Incidence of Ewing Sarcoma Family of Tumors
Studies using immunohistochemical markers, cytogenetics,[4,5] molecular genetics, and tissue culture  indicate that classic Ewing sarcoma, primitive neuroectodermal tumor, and Askin tumor (chest wall), as well as extraosseous Ewing sarcoma (EOE) are all derived from the same primordial bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell.[7,8] The incidence of Ewing sarcoma family of tumors (ESFTs) is approximately three per 1,000,000 per year and remained unchanged for 30 years. Data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registries reports an overall incidence of ESFT of one per 1,000,000 in the U.S. population. The incidence in patients aged 10 to 19 years is between nine and ten per 1,000,000. The same analysis suggests that the incidence of Ewing sarcoma is nine times greater in U.S. Caucasians than African Americans.