It was only in the late 1970s that chemotherapy was introduced as a way to treat Ewing’s Sarcoma. Before this, amputation of the affected limb was the only way to treat the cancer. At that time the survival rate was also very low. It was only 10%!
Doctors are trying to reduce the negative effects of Ewing’s Sarcoma treatment
But the good news is that today, 70-80% of the Ewings Sarcoma patients end up winning their battle against cancer. The chance of beating this kind of cancer is lower for people who have metastatic disease, but even then it is almost a 30% likelihood of surviving! And that is a positive thing to think about.
Now, why and how has the chance of beating Ewing’s Sarcoma increased so greatly?
The answer lies in the shift in how it is treated. With an advancement in technology and medicine, chemotherapy was begun as a way to get rid of the tumour growth. Not only this, but surgical methods also changed greatly. Amputation of the limb is much less common nowadays and is only carried out when other options are unavailable.
Today, the standard way to treat bone Ewings Sarcoma is via chemotherapy, followed by removal of the tumour area, radiotherapy or a combination of both methods.
The removal of the tumour area is called wide excision. It is basically when surgeons remove a small area of problematic tissue along with a little part of normal tissue.
A study by Jamshidi et al has shown that a certain subgroup of Ewings Sarcoma patients could be treated using a much less aggressive surgical approach.
Therefore, the surgery used to remove tumors is a lot better than amputation, which was previously the only way of treating the cancer. But, this is still an extensive surgery and it comes with many complications, which is especially troubling for children. So researchers are working on finding less aggressive ways to treat cancer.
Jamshidi, K., Mirzaei, A. 2018. Surgical Trend in Ewing’s sarcoma: from the Limb Amputation to the Extended Curettage. Cancer Press 4 (1,2,3,4): 1-3. DOI:10.15562/tcp.68