Bengali actor Aindrila Sharma, who passed away on November 20 after suffering from a brain stroke and multiple cardiac arrests, had survived cancer twice. The 24-year old had suffered from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of cancerous tumour that grows in the bones or the soft tissue around the bones — such as cartilage or nerves. She was treated with surgery and chemo-radiation.
According to Dr Pooja Babbar of The Oncology Centre, and CK Birla Hospital (R), Gurugram, Ewing’s sarcoma — named after James R Ewing, a pathologist who was first to describe cases of the disease in the 1920s — sarcoma is a type of cancer that can occur in various locations in the body.
What is it and who is more susceptible?
“Ewing’s sarcoma can start in the soft tissues of the chest, abdomen, limbs, or other locations and can spread to other organs or return to the same spot. The tumour is found mainly in childhood and adolescence, and rarely diagnosed in adults,” she told indianexpress.com.
The doctor added that Ewing’s sarcoma is “less prevalent in Asian countries, than in Western countries like England or the United States, and is more likely to occur in White people”.
“There, however, have been cases of the disease found in India over the years. As per hospital and laboratory-based studies, among all bone malignancies registered in India, 15.5 per cent of cases were of Ewing’s sarcoma,” Dr Babbar added.
The most common early symptom of Ewing’s sarcoma, the doctor explained, is pain or swelling in the tumour. “It may also develop into a visible lump on the surface of the skin. Broadly, it is a curable disease that has a high rate of recovery, but the treatment process can be difficult. The common approach for cancer that has not spread is a combination of surgeries to remove the tumour, radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells, and chemotherapy to kill possible cancer cells that have spread,” she stated.
The disease can be divided into four different types:
* Bone tumour: Often appearing in the thigh bones, pelvis, ribs, or shoulder blades, but can appear in any bone.
* Soft tissue tumour: This tumour affects the soft tissues around the bones, such as cartilage or muscle.
* Peripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumour: This type of tumour is found in the nerves and can be detected in many parts of the body.
“When cancer has not spread to other areas of the body, it is called localised Ewing’s sarcoma. When it has spread to other places in the body, it is called metastatic Ewing’s sarcoma. When cancer returns to the same place or any other place after a successful course of treatment, it is called recurrent Ewing’s sarcoma,” the expert mentioned, adding that after completing all planned therapy, at least one-fourth of patients with “initially localised disease relapse”.
The doctor concluded by saying that studies show it is more common in boys than girls. “There are no known lifestyle-related causes, so there is no known way to protect against this cancer.”