November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month November is lung cancer awareness month and we’re spreading the word. Lung cancer in many cases is a preventable disease often caused by smoking or other inhalants or toxins into the lungs. It’s a complex disease to understand and treat. According to the American Lung Association, Lung cancer happens when cells in the lung change. They grow uncontrollably and cluster together to form a tumor. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells grow without order or control, destroying the healthy lung tissue around them. These types of tumors are called malignant tumors. When the cancer cells spread, they prevent organs of the body from functioning properly. Lung cells most often change because they are exposed to dangerous chemicals that we breathe. There are two main types of lung cancer, small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common. Lung cancer symptoms usually do not appear until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. At this point, it is harder to treat lung cancer. Malignant tumors are dangerous and can grow uncontrollably. When the cancer cells grow too fast, they prevent your organs from working normally. For example, if cancer affects the lungs, the tumor may grow so large it blocks a major airway so that part of the lung is not usable for breathing or an infection may develop because of the blockage. There are two main types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. A third less common type of lung cancer is called carcinoid. Small cell lung cancer There are two different types of small cell lung cancer: small cell carcinoma and mixed small cell/large cell cancer or combined small cell lung cancer. The types of small cell lung cancer are named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer and how the cells look when viewed under a microscope. Small cell lung cancer is almost always associated with cigarette smoking. Small cell lung cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy. Non-small cell lung cancer Non-small cell lung cancer is more common. It makes up about 80 percent of lung cancer cases. This type of cancer usually grows and spreads to other parts of the body more slowly than small cell lung cancer does. Carcinoid Lung carcinoid tumors are uncommon and tend to grow slower than other types of lung cancers. They are made up of special kinds of cells called neuroendocrine cells. They are usually classified as typical or atypical carcinoids. Carcinoids are very rare, slow-growing and most commonly treated with surgery. Just as each person is unique, each type of lung cancer is different. It is important to know the type of lung cancer you have, sometimes called “your lung cancer profile” because it helps determine what lung cancer treatment options are available. If you’re interested in learning more about lung cancer, or if you have any concerns about your lung health, make an appointment to see your doctor.
Keep those lungs happy and healthy! We generally think about keeping our bodies in shape, but have you ever considered that your lungs should be part of that health and there are things you can do to help keep them in shape. Simple Deep Breathing Deep breathing can help you get closer to reaching your lungs' full capacity. As you slowly inhale, consciously expand your belly with awareness of lowering the diaphragm. Next expand your ribs, allowing the floating ribs to open like wings. Finally, allow the upper chest to expand and lift. After this, exhale as completely as possible by letting the chest fall, then contracting the ribs and, finally, bring the stomach muscles in and up to lift the diaphragm and expel the last bit of air. Counting on your breath You can also increase your lung capacity by increasing the length of your inhalations and exhalations. Start by counting how long a natural breath takes. If it takes to the count of five to inhale it should take to the count of five to exhale. You’ll want them to be of equal length. Once you’ve discovered the count for your average breath, add one more count to each inhale and exhale until you can comfortably extend the length of time it takes to fill and empty your lungs. The point is to avoid straining or being uncomfortable. It should be a gradual and easy process. Stay Hydrated Getting enough water is as important for the lungs as it is for the rest of the body. Staying well hydrated by taking in fluids throughout the day helps keep the mucosal linings in the lungs thin. This thinner lining helps the lungs function better. Be Active Regular moderately intense activity is great for the lungs, and when you increase your daily activity you get three things done at once: healthy lungs, a healthier heart and a better mood. Consider aiming for at least least 20 minutes of consistent, moderately intense movement daily, like a brisk walk or bike ride. Love your lungs. They keep you breathing.
Asthma affects your lungs. It is one of the most common long-term diseases in children, but affects adults as well. With symptoms such as breathlessness, chest tightening, wheezing, and coughing at night, early morning, or in the cold air, asthma attacks generally only happen when the lungs become bothered. Studies have uncovered very few causes of asthma, but in some cases it has been linked to genetic traits. Often if one family member has it, someone else in the family is more than likely to have it as well. When diagnosing asthma, your physician will check your lungs for allergies, chest tightness, wheezing, and colds lasting more than 10 days. They will generally also do a breathing test called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working. If having an asthma attack, you may experience chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing. The attack happens in your body’s airways causing a loss of air to your lungs. During the attack lungs swell and airways shrink decreasing the amount of air that is reaching the lungs, which also causes mucus to clog the airways even more. Have additional questions about asthma and how to control it? Ask your physician for more information.