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'It really saved my life,' Local 10 photojournalist says of new test to detect cancer cells

F-18 test allows doctors to find, kill cancer cells

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Local 10 photojournalist Bob Palumbo was one of the first people in South Florida to try a new way to find and kill cancer cells, and doctors say it likely saved his life.

When Palumbo was just 50 years old, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

Doctors removed his prostate gland and for five years, Palumbo was cancer-free.

But when blood tests showed that his PSA levels were rising, doctors knew the cancer was back. The question was: where?

The new test allows doctors to find prostate cancer cells and attack them.    

A few months ago, Local 10's cameras were there when Palumbo underwent the so-called F-18 test. The radioactive compound is attracted to prostate cancer cells and lights up in a scanner, showing doctors exactly where the abnormal cells are hiding.

For seven weeks, Palumbo underwent radiation treatment, targeting and killing the cancer cells with exact precision.

"We could see it.  We could give it more doses. We could say, 'Hey, we're not just going to do it in a general area,' which we did, but we could also say, 'OK, let's give more to where that lymph node just was,'" Dr. Srinath Sundararaman said.

"I really feel that this new test allowed Dr. Sundararaman to find the cancer and zap it. Otherwise, I could be standing here right now while it's spreading inside me to my bones, and I don't even want to think about what could be happening if that were the case," Palumbo said.

Today, Palumbo is back to work at Local 10, and his doctors say he is once again cancer free.

"It really saved my life. I believe that," Palumbo said.

Palumbo doesn't need any more radiation treatments, but he will get regular hormone shots to block testosterone production. Too much of that hormone can increase Palumbo's risk of a recurrence.