Palliative radiation therapy for metastatic Ewing sarcoma

Cancer. 2006 Apr 15;106(8):1790-3. doi: 10.1002/cncr.21812.


Background: Although radiotherapy is an accepted component of curative treatment for Ewing sarcoma (EWS), to the authors' knowledge, there are scant data evaluating its use for palliation. The authors reviewed the Duke University Medical Center experience to evaluate treatment response and response durability.

Methods: Between 1980 and 2002, 21 patients with metastatic EWS received palliative radiotherapy. Pain was the primary indication for treatment. The majority of patients were male (n = 16 patients), and the median age at diagnosis was 11.6 years (range, 2.7-28.8 yrs). Fifty-two percent of patients had metastases at initial diagnosis. For the others, the median interval from initial diagnosis to metastases was 1.7 years.

Results: Sixty-three metastatic sites were irradiated (median dose, 30 gray [Gy]; range, 4.5-68.5 Gy), and a median of 3 sites were treated per patient (range, 1-16 sites per patient). At the time of last follow-up, 1 patient with a solitary brain metastasis has been disease free for 3.4 years after resection and cranial radiotherapy; all other patients died of their disease. Censoring this survivor, patients lived for a median of 1.0 year after metastatic diagnosis (range, from 17 days to 6.8 years), 41 days of which were spent in treatment (range, 1-93 days). Of all sites, 55% had a complete clinical response of symptoms, and 29% had a partial response. The median response duration was 4.0 months (range, 10 days to 4.8 years). Only the survivor was noted to have a treatment complication (growth hormone insufficiency).

Conclusions: It was possible to treat metastatic EWS effectively with palliative radiotherapy. Because these patients live a median of 1 year after diagnosis of metastases, providing symptom relief without a protracted treatment course is valuable and appropriate therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bone Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Palliative Care*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / mortality
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / radiotherapy*
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / secondary*
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms / secondary
  • Survival Rate