Ewing sarcoma

Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2018 Jul 5;4(1):5. doi: 10.1038/s41572-018-0003-x.


Ewing sarcoma is the second most frequent bone tumour of childhood and adolescence that can also arise in soft tissue. Ewing sarcoma is a highly aggressive cancer, with a survival of 70-80% for patients with standard-risk and localized disease and ~30% for those with metastatic disease. Treatment comprises local surgery, radiotherapy and polychemotherapy, which are associated with acute and chronic adverse effects that may compromise quality of life in survivors. Histologically, Ewing sarcomas are composed of small round cells expressing high levels of CD99. Genetically, they are characterized by balanced chromosomal translocations in which a member of the FET gene family is fused with an ETS transcription factor, with the most common fusion being EWSR1-FLI1 (85% of cases). Ewing sarcoma breakpoint region 1 protein (EWSR1)-Friend leukaemia integration 1 transcription factor (FLI1) is a tumour-specific chimeric transcription factor (EWSR1-FLI1) with neomorphic effects that massively rewires the transcriptome. Additionally, EWSR1-FLI1 reprogrammes the epigenome by inducing de novo enhancers at GGAA microsatellites and by altering the state of gene regulatory elements, creating a unique epigenetic signature. Additional mutations at diagnosis are rare and mainly involve STAG2, TP53 and CDKN2A deletions. Emerging studies on the molecular mechanisms of Ewing sarcoma hold promise for improvements in early detection, disease monitoring, lower treatment-related toxicity, overall survival and quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 12E7 Antigen / analysis
  • 12E7 Antigen / blood
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / physiopathology
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-fli-1 / analysis
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-fli-1 / blood
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • RNA-Binding Protein EWS / analysis
  • RNA-Binding Protein EWS / blood
  • Radiography / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / blood
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / diagnosis*
  • Sarcoma, Ewing / physiopathology


  • 12E7 Antigen
  • CD99 protein, human
  • EWSR1 protein, human
  • FLI1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-fli-1
  • RNA-Binding Protein EWS