Ewing sarcoma primarily occurs in children and young adults and the majority of these patients will require treatment with chemotherapy and surgery.
One of the major symptoms of Ewing sarcoma is swelling around the bone. Patients responding well to chemotherapy witness a reduced swelling and can undergo conservative surgery which minimises the need for limb amputation.
However, if there are cancerous cells remaining in the area following such treatment, it is possible for the tumour to return and worsen the patients’ prognosis. Hence, patients with a high chance of tumour recurrence should undergo additional radiotherapy treatment for increased control of the tumour. Unfortunately, the side effects of radiotherapy (including infection, swelling, stiffness and a risk of secondary radiation-induced malignancies) mean this method of treatment is not routinely used.
This project is investigating whether cancer cells, dead or alive, can be identified in the surrounding tissue of Ewing sarcoma patients who have undergone the surgical removal of the tumour. Using patients’ tumour samples to test for specific cell surface markers and genetic alterations of tumour cells will allow these cells to be recognised. This hopes to identify those patients who are at a higher risk of tumour recurrence and guide the use of radiotherapy to create a better designed treatment plan for individual patients; aiming to limit the side effects of radiotherapy, and the risk of tumour recurrence, while enhancing the patients response to treatment.