Patient stories / 26 Oct, 2021

Prevention is better than a cure: an early prostate cancer experience

Icon Writers

How the introduction of focal brachytherapy in Geelong helped a family man continue to make the most of life

77-year-old Grovedale local Neville Burge has experienced loss, laughter and some of life’s greatest hurdles. Having cared long-term for his late wife, Neville knows all too well what being sick means and how much it can take a toll on yourself and those around you. With this experience, Neville strongly believes that ‘prevention is much better than a cure’.

Since turning 70 he’s regularly visited his doctor for check-ups and PSA tests, alongside staying active and proactively managing high blood pressure and cholesterol. When he was told his PSA levels were rising earlier this year, a sign of prostate cancer, Neville was glad to learn that it had been caught at an early stage despite the shock of his diagnosis.

“After my wife passed away, I was incredibly lucky to meet my beautiful new partner. My whole life had changed, I’d gotten back to feeling good but now I was suddenly faced with prostate cancer. I thought ‘there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m fit and healthy – how could I have this cancer?’ My mum’s coming up to her 106th birthday and she still reads the newspaper without glasses, we have good genes!” Neville said.

Neville was told that there was a new treatment option which could be suitable for his type of prostate cancer and after discussing this with his family, he was referred to see Dr Andrew See at Icon Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

“During my appointment with Dr See he told me I was a good candidate for a new radiation treatment called focal brachytherapy as part of a clinical registry he was leading. I have a very close friend with advanced prostate cancer who has had fairly severe side effects from his treatment, both psychologically and physically. If focal brachytherapy wasn’t available to me, I would have said no to treatment rather than potentially facing those long-term side effects. Receiving this type of treatment felt like the right option for me personally.”

Focal brachytherapy is a highly-targeted technique which involves the implantation of small radioactive seeds directly into the cancerous area of the prostate. These seeds deliver radiation to destroy the cancer over a short period of time. Unlike traditional brachytherapy, the seeds are placed into the tumour rather than the whole prostate, preserving the rest of the prostate gland and limiting side effects.

Icon’s LIBERATE clinical registry, which was launched in 2019, monitors men who have undergone focal brachytherapy for low to intermediate risk prostate cancer at Icon Cancer Centre in collaboration with Epworth Healthcare. The registry will span across a 10-year period and will collect data on individual patients for five years to determine the effects of treatment on long term quality of life and rates of cancer control.

“When I underwent the focal brachytherapy procedure, both my daughters and my partner thought I was on a high – laughing and carrying on. But I was just relieved and happy as I had confidence it was going to be alright. I was told I would be able to retain my lifestyle and thankfully I have! I had no side effects and now I’m back at the gym and doing everything I used to do; I’ve hardly missed a beat,” Neville said.

“My daughters and partner took my diagnosis really hard and were very concerned. Now they see how happy and healthy I am, it’s virtually in the past already. Everything’s positive and we’re focused on moving forward.”

With another experience behind him, Neville is looking forward to celebrating his birthday in November and maybe even some much-needed travel!

“Life’s great! I’m hoping to hire a motor home and travel up the east coast. My needs are simple – I’m just looking forward to enjoying everything life has to offer like getting out on the beach, going for a walk along the river and grabbing a coffee. Just making the most of it!”

Prevention is better than a cure, and with an early stage highly treatable cancer, Neville can now continue being a loving partner, father and friend and laughing through each minute.

As part of the LIBERATE clinical registry, focal brachytherapy treatment is now available at Icon Cancer Centre Geelong, Icon Cancer Centre Richmond and Icon Cancer Centre Freemasons.

 Find out more about focal brachytherapy and the LIBERATE clinical registry here.

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