It had been thirty-six years since Sunny Janin quit smoking, and while asthma had been a problem for her, she had not expected the lung cancer that snuck up on her. At 66, the Stevensville resident had been seeing her doctor for follow-up after knee surgery at AAMC. She had lost weight, and was fatigued and having night sweats. The doctor ran some tests to see what was going on. Because of her history, CT scans revealed a few spots on her lungs that a bronchoscopy and biopsy had missed.
She was immediately placed in the lung screening program where she was closely monitored with CT scans every three months. Her original fatigue and night sweats were unrelated to any lung problem, and they quickly passed. She assumed her health was fine. For a year-and-a-half her CT scans remained the same. Then, doctors saw a change in her lungs between one scan and the next.
It was stage one lung cancer. “Within three weeks, I was in surgery,” Sunny said. “It was caught so early I didn’t need any other treatment with radiation or chemo.” Her thoracic surgeon Stephen Cattaneo, MD, said regular lung screening with CT for high risk patients like Sunny has been proven to save lives because it can catch the cancer in its early stages when treatment is most effective. “Most lung cancers aren’t found until they’re fairly wide spread within the chest or until they’re metastatic,” he said.
“I didn’t have any symptoms. But AAMC is very aggressive about early detection. That was the key for me,” explains Sunny.
Now, at age 70, she continues to practice yoga and care for her husband. “I have a full life,” she says, enjoying her grand children, proctoring for the community college, and until recently, serving as a tour guide at the Naval Academy. “It was that early detection that was key for me.”