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Patient thanks expert prostate cancer team at NCH

July 24, 2019

“When you first hear the diagnosis of ‘cancer,’ it shakes you down to your boots,” Keith Brunelli, 62, of Arlington Heights describes. “Then you start reading and learning about it and you just want to do whatever you need to do to get rid of it.”

Keith had no symptoms at all, but an annual physical with NCH Medical Group Primary Care Physician John Rosanova, D.O. in August 2018 led to a discussion at a second visit about his elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. Dr. Rosanova referred Keith to NCH Medical Group Urologist David Guthman, M.D., for follow-up. Cancer was confirmed through biopsies prior to surgery and a post-surgery pathology report determined it was stage III prostate cancer.

Meeting the team

Keith saw Dr. Guthman, one of many specialists who is part of NCH’s comprehensive prostate cancer team. Dr. Guthman reviewed the numerous treatment options with him and Keith underwent additional testing to ensure the cancer was localized to the prostate.

“Dr. Guthman was outstanding,” Keith says, adding that he discussed the various forms of radiation treatment as well as surgical options, including the advantages of robotic surgery versus traditional surgery to remove the prostate. Benefits include less pain, blood loss and scarring.

Keith chose robotic surgery and was referred to Dr. Guthman’s partner, NCH Medical Group Urologist Michael Ross, M.D.

“When it comes to prostate cancer treatment, I believe an open dialogue and shared decision-making is important,” says Dr. Ross. “Patients are encouraged to work with their physicians to develop individualized treatment plans which allow us to review risks, benefits and potential long-term side effects of each treatment. These risks include erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, both of which may be reduced with the robotic approach.”

The goal was to ensure treatment was as effective as possible with the fewest side effects and less recovery time.

“Considering his overall goals and active lifestyle, robotic surgery was the right choice for Keith,” Dr. Ross says. “We guided him through the options, provided recommendations and ultimately he was able to select the treatment he felt was best for him.” 

Surgery day

On November 1, 2018, Keith underwent a robotic-assisted radical prostatectomy with pelvic lymph node dissection. The procedure went smoothly, and by early afternoon, he was recovering in his room at NCH.

“The doctors and nurses were exceptional at NCH,” Keith says. “I can’t say enough about how well they cared for me and how they made sure my wife, son and daughter-in-law were kept comfortable and informed throughout the day.”

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS):

  • 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
  • The average age of diagnosis is 66.
  • The risk for prostate cancer rapidly increases after age 50.
  • Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk.
  • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men.
  • ACS estimates that in 2019 there will be approximately 175,000 new cases.

Keith’s recovery was swift and by the end of December, he was vacationing in Florida with his family and playing golf every day.

In going through the process and speaking to others, Keith learned that one of his best friends and a cousin had prostate cancer.

“I’m not someone who goes around talking about this all the time,” Keith says. “But if telling my story can encourage one person to get his annual physical and have his prostate checked, then it will have been worth it.”

No case is the same; results may vary.

It’s your prostate. Don’t procrastinate. Take a risk quiz, get more facts and request a prostate screening at or call 847-618-9688.