Home » Ewing Sarcoma Center Q&A
The Faris D. Virani Ewing Sarcoma Center is a comprehensive center that includes both clinical care of patients with Ewing sarcoma and bench-to-bedside research for discovering new treatments for Ewing sarcoma.
Ewing sarcoma is a relatively rare cancer or malignancy that typically affects pediatric patients, usually teenage or adolescent patients. It is a tumor that forms within the bone or sometimes in the soft tissue or muscle area.
Patients will present with just pain. Often times Ewing sarcoma happens in the arms and legs. Children will come in with just a little bit of pain. Sometimes there may be swelling at the site of the tumor. But a lot of times there are very minimal signs and symptoms.
Like all cancers, Ewing sarcoma needs to be diagnosed on biopsies so that we can get a piece of the tumor, look at it under the microscope, see what it looks like and do specialized tests on it. In the beginning, all patients will have imaging, either X-rays or CT scans to give us an idea of how involved the tumor is.
The length of treatment for Ewing sarcoma is typically about 9-10 months, which includes chemotherapy and either surgery or radiation, then another round of chemotherapy. Once they have completed the up-front treatment for Ewing sarcoma, the oncology team follows them for another 5 years to ensure that the tumor has not recurred. Once they are done with the 5 year follow-up, we actually have a Long Term Survivor Clinic where they are transferred to and are followed for life.
The incidence rate of Ewing sarcoma in the United States is about 250 patients diagnosed every year. At Texas Children’s, the largest Cancer Center in the United States, we see 8-12 patients every year that have a new diagnosis of Ewing sarcoma.
One major emphasis of the Faris D. Virani Center is really advancing our research goals or endeavors. Some of the exciting research projects that we are actively working on in the Center includes understanding the basic biology of the disease, of the tumors and hopefully through that, integrate into the clinical care. One of our focus’ is to understand how the Ewing sarcoma tumor cells metastasize. By understanding that process better, we can then devise better therapies.
In addition, we are also trying to look at other aspects including cells known as cancer stem cells. These are believed to be cells that are involved in the actual tumor initiation and development. So if we can understand these very early on, the initial cells that are within the tumor, again understanding the biology of these tumor cells and genetics of these tumor cells we can devise better ways to treat them.
Another thing we are looking at is understanding biomarkers. How can we have ways and means to understand early on whether a patient may respond to therapies we are going to give him or her.
We are also doing things that push the envelope and are looking at novel things, such as immunotherapy approaches towards the treatment of Ewing sarcoma. This is where, we use the patient’s own immune system, such as their white cells and immune cells, to help fight the cancer.
We really want to make every patient and their families who come to our door feel like they are the only patient being treated here at Texas Children’s Hospital. We want to provide comprehensive physical, as well as emotional care, for all the patients and their families. I think here at Texas Children’s we can offer all those resources for the care of these patients.
Our Patient Care Coordinators are unique. They are there from the very beginning of the diagnosis and are here to be an advocate, to be an ambassador to the patient, and to help them through the journey that is the treatment of cancer.
We can offer precision medicine to each individual patient that walks in the door. What I mean by precision medicine is the fact that we can take a piece of the patient’s tumor and personalize it. By understanding its biology and genetics, we can hopefully gain some insight into the individual patient’s characteristics and their tumor characteristics. Ideally down the road we can translate that to again helping with our personalized care for each individual patient.
There are a couple of ways to contact us. One way is through our website — that is txch.org/cancer-center/ewing-sarcoma-center.
Parents can reach our center by calling 832-822-4102 or 1-800-CANCER9.