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What to Know About Surgery for Ewing Sarcoma

Three surgeons in a surgery suite
Today, doctors often use limb-sparing surgery instead of amputation.

Different types of surgery are used to treat Ewing sarcoma. The type of surgery you get depends on where your tumor is located. It also depends on how the surgery will affect the part of your body that is being operated on.

Many tumors that involve soft tissue or certain bones can be removed without harming your movement or function. However, tumors in the main bones in the arms or legs usually can’t be removed without affecting how the arm or leg works.

Doctors used to amputate limbs when they couldn’t remove just the tumor. Today doctors can often use limb-sparing surgery instead of amputation. During this procedure the surgeon replaces a part of your bone. The bone may be replaced with grafts from other bones or with metal or plastic bones and joints, which are called prostheses. Sometimes children with a prosthesis need more than one surgery as they age because their bones are still growing.

Limb-sparing surgery is not always an option. The bone may be hard to replace or surgery may damage the limb. If you can’t have limb-sparing surgery, your doctor may recommend radiation or amputation as a better option.

Potential side effects of surgery for Ewing sarcoma

Your surgeon will explain the possible side effects before you have surgery. After surgery, your health care team will help you manage your side effects.

Here are some common side effects that people with Ewing sarcoma have when they go through surgery:

  • Poor wound healing

  • Infection

  • Pain at the tumor site

If you had radiation or chemotherapy before surgery, you may take longer to heal. You may also be at greater risk for infection.

In some cases, grafts or prostheses may become loose or break and require surgery to replace them.

Both limb-sparing surgery and amputation can lead to changes in how a person is able to use a limb, which will require physical rehabilitation.