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Massive tumour shifts young man's heart 12 centimetres

A few months ago, 21-year-old Burak Aktaş from Istanbul began to experience weakness and shortness of breath. Concerned about his health, he sought medical attention, and what doctors found was astonishing: a massive 6.5-kilogram tumour within his left chest cavity, resulting in a remarkable shift of his heart 12 centimetres to the right.

Published November 05,2023

Burak Aktaş, a 21-year-old from Istanbul, experienced weakness and shortness of breath a few months ago, prompting him to seek medical help. Upon examination, it was discovered that he had a 6.5-kilogram tumour in his left chest cavity, which had caused his heart to shift 12 centimetres to the right. Doctors were astonished by this unusual case.

Aktaş underwent a biopsy, revealing that the tumour was not of lung origin but an "immature teratoma" that had developed from germ cells during fetal development. Chemotherapy was attempted to reduce the mass, but it was unsuccessful. Over two months, the tumour grew tenfold in size, reaching the dimensions of a watermelon.

Fortunately, a successful operation by the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery teams at Koşuyolu Training and Research Hospital removed the tumour, allowing Aktaş's heart to return to its normal position.

Prof. Dr. Erdal Taşçı explained: "Burak Aktaş had been completely healthy until about 2.5-3 months ago when he suddenly started experiencing health issues. Aktaş initially complained of chest pain, cough, and shortness of breath, which led him to seek medical attention. During the medical examinations, a mass the size of an orange was discovered in his left chest cavity, and it was determined not to originate from his lung. The diagnosis was an immature teratoma.

Despite undergoing chemotherapy in an attempt to shrink the tumour before surgery, the mass showed rapid growth. Starting from the size of an orange, it reached the size of a large melon within a month and ultimately expanded to the dimensions of a watermelon by October. This extraordinary rate of growth posed a life-threatening risk to Aktaş.

The tumour's size and location were significant concerns. It pushed his heart to the right side of the chest cavity and caused twisting of the major vessels entering and exiting the heart. As a result, not enough blood was flowing into his body, and the left lung had been compressed to the point that it resembled paper.

Given the urgency of the situation, the surgical team had to act promptly to relieve the life-threatening pressure caused by the tumour. Aktaş underwent surgery just three days after seeking medical assistance."

Burak Aktaş recounted, "My life was incredibly challenging for three months. Before the surgery, I couldn't lie down or get a good night's sleep. Thanks to Professor Erdal Taşçı, my life has been completely transformed..."