What are the Symptoms and Clinical Signs of Ewing's Sarcoma?

This information has been written for patients, their families and friends and the general public to help you understand more about some of the possible signs and symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma and to raise awareness of them.

Presentation: doctors talk about 'presentation' when they mean 'symptoms' and 'clinical signs'.

Symptoms are what the patient or parent/ carer see or feel. Clinical signs are what the doctors may see during a physical examination, giving doctors clues about what is wrong with the patient.

Most common symptoms reported:

  • Localised pain: bone pain; may come and go and vary in its intensity.

  • Swelling, this can be seen if it is on a bone near the surface of the body but in other places, like on the pelvis, it may not be visible

Less common symptoms, rare and very rare symptoms, fever (pyrexia), tiredness or feeling weary, (lethargy), pain accompanied by tingling and numbness (pins and needles), weight loss and loss of appetite, breathlessness.

Symptoms vary from patient to patient and can range in their severity. They may be mild at first coming on over a period of a couple of weeks. They may also appear suddenly. Some patients report their symptoms disappearing for relatively long periods before suddenly returning.

Symptoms may be present for weeks or months, sometimes even longer before patients are diagnosed. This can be because the symptoms of Ewing's sarcoma are quite general and could indicate a number of conditions, for example,

In older children, adolescents and young adults

  • Tendonitis,
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease (rupture of the growth plate where the knee cap tendon inserts),
  • Trauma (Injury)
  • Slipped Epiphysis (eppy-FEE-siss)

In younger children

  • Osteomyelitis (OS-tee-oh-MY-uh-LY-tis), which is infection of the bone.

The intermittent nature of pain may lead doctors to think the condition is temporary. Most patients do not actually feel ill until the cancer is fairly well advanced.

In addition, because most Ewing's sarcoma patients are in their teens, the pain is sometimes mistaken for bone growth or 'growing pains.' Patients in this age group are also usually very physically active and the pain may be suspected to be from a sports injury or everyday activities.

You can read patients' and their family's experiences in our Stories by Patients and Families section.

Clinical signs:

  • A mass that can be felt (palpable) when undergoing physical examination.

  • Broken bone (fracture) resulting from weakening of bone due to a tumour, this is known as a 'pathological fracture.'

Last reviewed: October 2010; Version: 1.1
Review due: October 2011

The authors and reviewers of this information are committed to producing reliable, accurate and up to date content reflecting the best available research evidence, and best clinical practice. We aim to provide unbiased information free from any commercial conflicts of interest. This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. BCRT can answer questions about primary bone cancers, including treatments and research but we are unable to offer specific advice about individual patients. If you are worried about any symptoms please consult your doctor.

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