Treating Ewing Tumors
Treatment overview for Ewing tumors
Once a Ewing tumor has been found and staged, the cancer care team will talk with you about treatment options. It’s important to be sure you understand your child’s options as well as their possible side effects to help make the decision that’s the best fit for your child. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask to have it explained. You can find some good questions to ask in “ What should you ask the doctor about Ewing tumors?”
The main goals of treatment of Ewing tumors are:
- To try to cure the patient
- To keep as much function in affected parts of the body as possible
- To limit the long-term complications of treatment as much as possible
For children and teens, a team approach is recommended that includes the child’s pediatrician as well as children’s cancer specialists. Treatment for children and teens is best done at a children’s cancer center. For adults with Ewing tumors, the treatment team typically includes the patient’s primary care doctor, as well as specialists at a major cancer center. Doctors on the treatment team might include:
- An orthopedic surgeon (a surgeon who specializes in muscles and bones) who is experienced in treating bone tumors
- A medical or pediatric oncologist (a doctor who treats cancer with chemotherapy and other drugs)
- A radiation oncologist (a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy)
- A pathologist (a doctor specializing in lab tests to diagnose and classify diseases)
- A physiatrist (a doctor who directs a person’s rehabilitation and physical therapy)
For adults and children, the team will also include other doctors, physician assistants (PAs), nurse practitioners (NPs), nurses, psychologists, social workers, physical therapists and other rehabilitation specialists, and other health professionals. Going through cancer treatment often means meeting lots of specialists and learning about parts of the medical system you probably haven’t been exposed to before. For more information, see Children Diagnosed With Cancer: Understanding the Health Care System.
Before treatment, the doctors and other members of the team will help you, as a parent, understand the tests that will need to be done. The team’s social worker will also counsel you about the problems you and your child might have during and after treatments such as surgery, and might be able to help you find housing and financial aid if needed.
The types of treatment that can be used in Ewing tumors include:
Chemotherapy is almost always the first treatment. Localized therapy (surgery and/or radiation therapy) is next, often followed by more chemotherapy. A stem cell transplant might be an option for some patients with Ewing tumors that are unlikely to be cured with other treatments.
Your child’s treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer and other factors. See “Treatment of Ewing tumors by stage” for information about the most common approaches.
Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.
Most patients with Ewing tumors are treated in clinical trials according to national treatment guidelines called protocols. In the United States, some of the most successful protocols have been those of the Children’s Oncology Group and its forerunners. Studies from similar groups in Europe have also produced very important information. Most advances in the treatment of Ewing tumors have come from the results of these clinical trials.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for your child, start by asking your child’s doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. You can also call our clinical trials matching service at 1-800-303-5691 for a list of studies that meet your child’s medical needs, or see the Clinical Trials section to learn more.
Considering complementary and alternative methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your child’s cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.
Be sure to talk to your child’s cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See the Complementary and Alternative Medicine section to learn more.
Help getting through cancer treatment
Your child’s cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your child’s care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, support groups, and more – to help get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists on call 24 hours a day, every day.