Uses of Radiation in the Medical Industry Although scientists have only known about radiation since the 1890s, they have developed a wide variety of uses for this natural force. Today, to benefit humankind, radiation is used in medicine, academics, and industry, as well as for generating electricity. In addition, radiation has uses in such areas as agriculture, space exploration, law enforcement, geology and many others. However, in the medical industry, radiation is used for x-rays, therapeutic uses, and in nuclear medicine procedures.
The most common of these medical procedures involve the use of x-rays — a type of radiation that can pass through our skin. When x-rayed, our bones and other structures cast shadows because they are denser than our skin, and those shadows can be detected on photographic film. The effect is similar to placing a pencil behind a piece of paper and holding the pencil and paper in front of a light. The shadow of the pencil is revealed because most light has enough energy to pass through the paper, but the denser pencil stops all the light.
The difference is that x-rays are invisible, so we need photographic film to "see" them for us. This allows doctors and dentists to spot broken bones and dental problems. X-rays and other forms of radiation also have a variety of therapeutic uses. When used in this way, they are most often intended to kill cancerous tissue, reduce the size of a tumor, or reduce pain For example, radioactive iodine is frequently used to treat thyroid cancer, a disease that strikes about 11,000 Americans every year.
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While it's killing the cancer, radiation therapy also can damage normal cells. The good news is that normal cells are more likely to recover from the effects of radiation. Doctors take precautions to protect a person's healthy cells when they're giving radiation treatments. Although most therapeutic uses of radiation involve the treatment of cancer, therapeutic doses may also be used to treat conditions such as clogged blood vessels. In addition, hospitals and radiology centers perform approximately 10 million nuclear medicine procedures in the United States each year.
Nuclear medicine procedures record radiation emitting from the patient's body rather than emit radiation that is directed through the patient's body. In such procedures, doctors administer slightly radioactive substances, called radiopharmaceuticals, to patients, which are attracted to certain internal organs such as the pancreas, kidney, thyroid, liver, or brain, to diagnose clinical conditions. Nuclear medicine is primarily used for diagnosis of diseases, but it can be used to treat disease as well.
Therapeutic uses include treatment of hyperthyroidism and pain relief from certain types of bone cancers. There are many uses of radiation in medicine. X-rays, therapeutic uses, and nuclear medicine are just some ways radiation is used in the medical industry. The most well known is from of radiation is using x rays to see whether bones are broken. However, radiation therapy is also well-known for the treatment of disease or cancer. Lastly, radiation in nuclear medicine is used to identify abnormalities very early in the progress of a disease.
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