Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the disease resulting from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the lungs. These abnormal cells do not function like the normal lung cells.  The abnormal cells may form into tumors that interfere with proper lungs function which is to supply the body with oxygen through the blood.

Lung Cancers are categorized into primary and secondary cancers based on how they started.

Primary lung cancer

Primary lung cancers start from the lung tissue itself and are classified into two types: the small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and the non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The classification is based on the cancer cells’ appearance when viewed under a microscope.

  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

The nuclear diameter of small cells is about 6 to 8 microns or about twice that of lymphocytes and smaller than the size of normal lung cells.

Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) grows more rapidly and spreads more quickly than non-small cell lung cancer.  Generally, SCLC has a better response to chemotherapy and radiation therapy than NSCLC.

SCLC is usually caused by smoking and very rarely happens to non-smokers.

  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)

       NSCLC cells are bigger than the normal cells. Approximately 85% of lung cancers are NSCLC (also called undifferentiated carcinoma). The cancer cells in undifferentiated or anaplastic carcinoma don’t look like the cells from which they developed.

Three main types of NSCLC:

– Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of lung cancer. It starts from the cells of mucus-producing glands on the lungs’ airways.

– Squamous cell or epidermoid carcinoma develops from the squamous cells in the surface of the bronchial airways. Squamous cell lung cancer is usually diagnosed only after it has spread.

– Large cell carcinoma which is also called undifferentiated or anaplastic carcinoma is an NSCLC without the histological features of squamous cell carcinoma, small cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Anaplastic, poorly-differentiated or undifferentiated tumor cells do not look like their tissue of origin. Large cells have large nuclei and they divide rapidly.
Approximately 10 percent of people suffering from lung cancer were found to have both non- small cell and small cell cancers.

  1. Secondary lung cancer

    A secondary lung cancer develops from another part of the body and spreads or metastasizes to the lungs.  It could be breast cancer that has spread to the lungs.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Following are some of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer that has not yet spread beyond the chest. However, these signs and symptoms are usually mistaken as related to other health problems instead of lung cancer. The delay in detection and treatment make lung cancer a high-mortality cancer for both men and women. At its advanced stage, the probability of a successful lung cancer treatment is very low.

  • Persistent, intense coughing.
  • Change in volume or color of sputum.
  • Hoarse voice for an extended time.
  • Coughing up blood or blood-tinged mucus or phlegm
  • Recurring pneumonia, bronchitis and other lung problems.
  • Chest, shoulder or back pain that is not due to coughing.
  • Shortness of breath and other respiratory symptoms

The following symptoms may be experienced if lung cancer has spread from the chest to the other parts of the body. The symptoms may or may not depend on the body part where the lung cancer has spread.

  • Fatigue and general weakness
  • Headache, memory loss, mental changes or blurred vision if the cancer has spread to the brain.
  • Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite.
  • Bone pain, fracture not caused by physical injury if cancer has spread to the bones.
  • Back pain, loss of bladder or bowel function or paralysis if cancer is already in the spinal cord.
  • Other symptoms

Stages of Lung Cancer

The stages of lung cancer provide the patient and the medical specialists with information regarding the severity of the disease. The various stages usually describe the size of the tumor and the extent to which cancer has spread in the body. Cancer stages help doctors to determine the treatment plan and to assess a patient’s prognosis.

NSCLC and SCLC have different staging systems

Stages of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

The staging system for NSCLC uses the numbers 1-4 or the Roman numerals I-IV and sometimes in combination with letters like IIIA or 3A.

So, if the diagnosis is Stage I, the patients and all involved in their treatment know that cancer, which is still within the lungs, has not spread to any lymph nodes. Then, if it’s already at Stage IV, they know that the cancer is already at the “most advanced” stage and has spread to other parts of the body.

Stages of Small Cell Lung Cancer

There are two stages of small cell lung cancer- limited and extensive stages.

  • Limited stage: The cancer is in one part of the lungs and the surrounding lymph nodes only. Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The lung cancer is still most likely curable.
  • Extensive stage: Lung cancer at this stage has spread beyond the lungs to other organs in the chest or other parts of the body. Generally, small cell lung cancer at this stage is considered incurable and surgery to remove the cancerous part is no longer an option.The oncologist may recommend chemotherapy and radiation depending on the patient’s overall health condition to relieve symptoms, shrink the tumor and stop it from spreading further.

Why people would like to have lung cancer screening and treatment in Turkey?

An early, thorough and accurate lung cancer diagnosis is essential in the development of its treatment plan. People who have chosen to have their lung cancer treatment in Turkey will find that many healthcare facilities that can provide them with the highest quality of diagnoses, treatment and aftercare are readily available at much lower costs.

Turkey has good pulmonologists, oncologists, surgeons and hospitals

Turkey’s Ministry of Health actively monitors the country’s health care system for compliance with the set standards. In addition, many hospitals are certified by reputable accreditation agencies including the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JACHO), Joint Commissions International (JCI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Well-trained and Skilled Specialists

One of the reasons that make Turkey a top destination for cancer patients is the availability of well trained and experienced medical specialists. Your medical team may include but not limited to the following:

  • Pulmonologist
  • Pathologist
  • Medical oncologist
  • Radiation oncologist
  • Thoracic surgeon
  • Palliative care specialist/Pain management specialists
  • Other specialists deemed necessary by the team

Infrastructure and State Of The Art Equipment

Turkey’s modern hospitals with state-of-the-art equipment are important factors in successful treatment procedures for lung cancer patients. They also need huge investments and it helps that the government operates over a thousand hospitals and grants incentives to health tourism investors.

Hospitals in Turkey use some of the best technologies in the world for diagnosis, treatment procedures, facilities and record keeping.

It is more affordable in Turkey compared to most countries, especially Europe and US

The total cost of lung cancer treatment varies according to several factors. The treatment plan is personalized based on the patient’s health condition, the diagnostic tests needed, professional fees of the attending medical specialists and the treatments planned by the assigned medical team.

Thoracoscopic segmental resection of the lung or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) is one of the treatment procedures for non-small cell lung cancer at its early stage (I & II). Many patients favor it because it is less invasive than the open chest lung surgery, requiring shorter recuperation period. VATS cost a minimum of $9500 in Turkey, $25, 500 minimum in Italy and $14,000 minimum in Israel.  The cost is much higher in the United States.