Brain cancer treatment gives family hope for more time
A revolutionary treatment available in Brisbane is giving people with terminal brain cancer - who with traditional treatment would struggle to survive more than a few months - hope that they can spend years with their families.
After surviving a battle with breast cancer years earlier, Lynne Norton, 59, was devastated when she found out in the peak of the coronavirus pandemic that the cancer had spread to her brain.
It was a shock diagnosis for the Airlie Beach local as she was told the cancer was terminal and, without aggressive and rapid treatment, her chances of being alive in six months were very low.
"When you have been told that your cancer is incurable, all you can think about is the time you have left," Mrs Norton said.
"The hardest moment was calling my son and telling him the news."
Icon Cancer Centre oncologist Associate Professor Matt Foote said that, with "hyper-targeted" radiation technology, a significant proportion of patients with a diagnosis like Lynne's were now living far beyond 12 months.
"We know that people who have brain secondaries (cancer) with traditional treatment rarely lived six to eight months, and what we're seeing now is with this type of Hyperarc treatment even with people with multiple brain lesions, many of them are living well beyond 12 months," he said.
"I've certainly got a number of patients now that are a number of years out."
Assoc Prof Foote said the Hyperarc technology targeted very focused areas of the brain, as opposed to the whole brain, which can reduce treatment time by up to 75 per cent, limit the number of visits to hospital and improve quality of life.
"What we're seeing in general throughout Queensland that not all patients that could benefit from this treatment do actually have access to it … within metropolitan Brisbane many people would be aware of it, but I think many clinicians may not refer these patients because they don't know the capabilities of this treatment," he said.
"Most of this can be done in a timely manner in the private sector with not a lot of out-of-pocket expenses for patients … the bulk of this treatment is actually covered by Medicare."
Mrs Norton is spending as much time as she can now with husband Steve and her family, with their son and daughter-in-law having moved to Airlie Beach to help run their small business.
"I can only hope it has given me more time," she said.
"This experience has truly changed my outlook, being given the opportunity to enjoy life and live fully after receiving the news has changed everything."
Originally published as Brain cancer treatment gives family hope for more time