Lung cancer survivor hopes his story will encourage others to get screened

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:07 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:56 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - It’s World Lung Cancer Awareness Day and local doctors and patients are reminding others about the importance of getting regular check-ups and screenings.

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the country.

WBRC spoke to a survivor who said it’s important to spread awareness and he hopes his story will encourage others to stay on top of their health.

During a tele-health visit in March, Russell Jones explained to his doctor that he was concerned about his chronic bronchitis.

Jones is a former smoker with a family history of cancer, so his doctor did a chest x-ray.

“And he found some abnormalities on my lung,” Jones said.

That’s when his doctor ordered a PET Scan, and a pulmonologist delivered the news.

“I had a nodule on the top lobe and when they done the surgery, they discovered a tumor in my middle lobe, and they had to take out the top and the middle lobe,” Jones explained.

Thankfully, doctors caught Jones’ cancer early, and performed surgery to remove it.

“When I went to see my oncologist, he walked in the door and he said, ‘Good news, no chemo and no radiation and I hope I never see you again,’” Jones said.

Pulmonologists say there are very few symptoms of early lung cancer, which is why screening is paramount.

“When symptoms do present themselves, whether that be cough, shortness of breath, coughing up blood, fatigue, weight loss, unfortunately, that typically tells us that the cancer may have spread or be more advance than we would like,” said Dr. Joshua Guatney, Pulmonologist for Ascension St. Vincent’s.

He said federal guidelines for lung cancer screenings were recently updated and hopes this will encourage more people to talk to their doctors about their risks.

“Starting in and around age 50 and including those individuals who have smoked for roughly 20 pack years. So, that’s roughly a pack a day for 20 years, or two packs a day for 10, etc. We know if we find it early, we have a higher rate of cure,” Dr. Guatney said.

Most recent data from the Alabama Department of Public Health shows 2,745 Alabamians died of lung cancer in 2019.

Jones said he’s grateful to be alive to share his story and said he’s getting back to his normal routine.


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