Sarcomas are tumors that can develop anywhere in a child’s body where there is bone, connective tissue or muscle.
There are two main categories of pediatric sarcomas — bone sarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas. Four different types fall under these categories — osteosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas.
- Osteosarcoma – typically develops in areas where the bone is growing quickly, usually around the knee or in the upper arm. The risk for osteosarcoma is highest between the ages of 10 and 30, especially in teenagers during growth spurts. Osteosarcoma causes bone pain and swelling at night or during sports or activities.
- Ewing sarcoma – can also cause bone pain and swelling, and is found most often in young teenagers (age 12 to 14 years*). It’s less common than osteosarcoma and typically starts near hips, ribs, shoulder blades or leg bones.
*Age of young teenagers as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Soft tissue sarcomas
- Rhabdomyosarcoma – cancer cells that develop in muscles, including the skeletal, cardiac and smooth muscles (like stomach muscles).
- Non-rhabdomyosarcoma soft tissue sarcomas (NRSTS) – these tumors develop in any site in the body that has soft tissue. There are many types of non-rhabdomyosarcomas.
The symptoms of bone sarcomas, Ewing tumors and soft-tissue sarcomas include the following:
Bone sarcoma symptoms
Bone sarcomas, such as osteosarcoma, can cause symptoms that first appear to be normal in active children and teens, such as pain or swelling. However, the pain and swelling in the affected bone will continue to increase, sometimes even to the point of being able to feel a lump under the skin. If your child’s pain and swelling continues to get worse, and if they begin to limp, it’s best to see your child’s physician.
Ewing tumors symptoms
Most Ewing tumors can cause bone pain, swelling or a lump. Additionally, Ewing tumors can cause the following symptoms once the tumor has spread:
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
Soft-tissue sarcomas, like rhabdomyosarcoma, can start anywhere in the body, so there are no universal symptoms that can alert parents or physicians. In general, soft tissue symptoms can include:
- Lump or swelling in the neck, chest or back
- Bulging eye or affected vision
- Headache, earache, sinus congestion
- Blood in urine, inability to urinate or have bowel movement
- Vomiting, abdominal pain or constipation
- Jaundice in eyes or skin
- Bone pain, weight loss, weakness or a persistent cough