Your lungs are the organs which allow you to breathe. They bring oxygen into your body as you inhale and release carbon dioxide as you exhale. You have two lungs. Your left lung has two lobes, and your right lung three. As your doctors search for and treat lung cancers, their hope is the cancer is confined to just one of these lobes.
Your trachea or windpipe leads from your nose and mouth to your lungs. In your chest, it divides into bronchi, two tubes which go to the right and left lung. Sometimes you can have lung cancer in the bronchi. Inside your lungs, you have alveoli, little air sacs linked by little tubes called bronchioles. When your doctors talk about lung cancer, you may hear those terms.
Lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women, develops over many years and can start in any part of your respiratory system. While many people think of lung cancer, the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells, as only being in your lungs, it also can start in your trachea, in the lining around your lungs and in the bronchi, the tubes that lead from your trachea to your lungs. Usually it starts in the lining of your bronchi.
Many lung cancers are caught late, which makes treatment more complex. Only 15 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer are still alive five years later, according to the American Cancer Society. Lung cancers are among the most preventable of cancers with almost 90 percent attributed to smoking.
Lung cancer and smoking
Specialists with the ACT Center for Tobacco, Treatment, Education and Research also are part of your lung care team. Housed at Jackson Medical Mall, the program, offered free to Mississippians, uses medications and counseling to help you quit tobacco use. Studies show this is the most effective approach to quitting.
The American Cancer Society estimates smoking leads to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths. In addition, smoking also can cause diseases of the heart and circulatory system and other lung diseases. At the ACT Center, counselors and physicians with years of experience in tobacco dependence design your treatment to meet your needs, increasing the likelihood you will quit.
Counseling services and medications, all FDA-approved, are free for Mississippi residents, funded by the Mississippi Legislature. You will receive an initial evaluation and will be asked to attend six weekly clinic sessions covering topics such as nicotine addiction, health risks and managing stress. Counselors meet with you for follow up visits for up to a year to help you stay on track and to monitor or adjust your medications. About 100 new clients per month come to the ACT Center and more than half are tobacco free six to 12 months later.
Staff can arrange for you to attend counseling sessions at a satellite center closer to your home if you are traveling to Jackson for cancer treatment. A grant from the Mississippi Department of Health funds the satellite centers. For more information, go to the ACT Web site, www.act2quit.com, then click on “treatment” or call (601) 815-1180.