The definitive diagnosis is based on histomorphologic findings, immunohistochemistry and molecular pathology. Ewing's sarcoma is a small-blue-round-cell tumor that typically has a clear cytoplasm on H&E staining, due to glycogen. The presence of the glycogen can be demonstrated with positive PAS staining and negative PAS diastase staining. The characteristic immunostain is CD99, which diffusely marks the cell membrane. Morphologic and immunohistochemical findings are corroborated with an associated chromosomal translocation, of which several occur. The most common translocation, present in about 90% of Ewing sarcoma cases, is t(11;22)(q24;q12), which generates an aberrant transcription factor through fusion of the EWSR1 gene with the FLI1 gene.
The pathologic differential diagnosis is the grouping of small-blue-round-cell tumors, which includes lymphoma, alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, and desmoplastic small round cell tumor, among others.
Almost all patients require multidrug chemotherapy (often including ifosfamide and etoposide), as well as local disease control with surgery and/or radiation. An aggressive approach is necessary because almost all patients with apparently localized disease at the time of diagnosis actually have asymptomatic metastatic disease. Treatment often consists of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, which may include vincristine, doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide with ifosfamide and etoposide.After about three months of chemotherapy, the remaining tumor is surgically resected, irradiated, or both. The surgical resection may involve limb salvage or amputation. Complete excision at the time of biopsy may be performed if malignancy is confirmed at the time it is examined.
Treatment lengths vary depending on location and stage of the disease at diagnosis. Radical chemotherapy may be as short as six treatments at 3-week cycles, but most patients undergo chemotherapy for 6–12 months and radiation therapy for 5–8 weeks. Radiotherapy has been used for localized disease. The tumor has a unique property of being highly sensitive to radiation, sometimes acknowledged by the phrase "melting like snow", but the main drawback is that it recurs dramatically after some time. Antisense oligodeoxynucleotides have been proposed as possible treatment by down-regulating the expression of the oncogenic fusion protein associated with the development of Ewing's sarcoma resulting from the EWS-ETS gene translocation. In addition, the synthetic retinoid derivative fenretinide (4-hydroxy(phenyl)retinamide) has been reported to induce high levels of cell death in Ewing's sarcoma cell lines in vitro and to delay growth of xenografts in in vivo mouse models.