ODESSA, TX (KWES) - It's the deadliest of cancers that accounts for more deaths in both men and women but experts say it's also the most preventative. Experts say 90% of lung cancers are from tobacco use.
In the past few years, lung cancer cases in Texas have decreased, that shows people are cutting out the smoking and putting their health first. But that's not the case for Ector County.
"It is probably within the top five cities in Texas where tobacco use is prevalent," said Timothy Marquez, a Pulmonary Patient Educator at Medical Center Hospital. "We've had several patients over the years that have been diagnosed with cancer linked to their tobacco use or of smoking."
One report showed that Ector County had a higher rate of lung cancer than the state. Medical professionals also find many of their patients just can't seem to put the cigarette down. Even after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Experts said shortness of breath, energy and asthma symptoms likely get better within the first 2 to 4 weeks after you quit. On average, smokers will die 13 to 14 years sooner than non-smokers. And by stopping, the risk of lung cancer, heart attacks, even pregnancy problems decrease.
"They will provide the services as its supposed to, whatever we breathe in, whether it's pollen, it provides that airway clearance," said Marquez.
Medical Center Hospital is trying to lower the high number of smokers in Ector County with programs from tobacco cessation classes, and if you're committed, free nicotine replacement.
"What we try to do first is make sure they're done smoking," said Marquez. "If we need to write them the nicotine replacement or patches, gum, or throat lozenges, we like to go that route."
Texas still has a long way to go but a 33,000 decrease in lung cancer deaths shows there's been major changes. If Ector County starts to see that progression, there's hope to quit smoking before smoking quits you.
Medical Center Hospital also offers affordable and early-detection lung cancer screenings. If you're a smoker who's looking to quit, you can attend their tobacco recession classes Thursday evenings at the main campus from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, you can call them at (432) 640-6000.