23 March 2012
Radioisotopes are considered as a double-edged sword. They can be the greatest innovation in science, or the cause of death. Radioisotopes are isotopes that are produced artificially or naturally through the process of synthesis and separation. These combinations of protons and neutrons are unstable and give off a radioactive wave. Radioisotopes can be used for many different functions such as an atomic bomb or to help in the field of medicine. They are very important and without them, doctors would have lost a very important tool.
In the field of medicine, radioisotopes are used to provide information about the functioning of a person’s specific organs or to treat disease. The idea of using radioisotopes is to “image internal structures and processes” in the human body (Ioffe). This is similar to using an X-rays. The advantage to using radioisotopes is that it can show all of the internal structures. X-rays can only see hard tissue like bones but radioisotopes can show a diagram of all soft tissue like muscle. Radioisotopes are not only limited to imaging processes. Another use is to treat diseased organs or tumors by “killing cancerous cells” (Ioffe). This process is called radiation therapy. Some examples of the radioisotopes in this process are “Iodine-131, phosphorus-32” and for “more radical uses, Boron-10 to specifically attack tumor cells” (Ioffe). In the process, radioactive elements are inserted near the tumor. Radiation is more harmful to growing cells and cancerous cells grow at an uncontrolled rate, giving them a disadvantage to radiation exposure. The cancerous will start to be destroyed and when it is all gone, there is no chance for the tumor to grow back again. An important factor in radiation therapy is that the radiation kills all cells indiscriminately. Although it is impossible to control the isotope to only kill the bad cells, the hope is that the...