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. 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...
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