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Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy

The specialty of nuclear medicine that uses ionizing radiation for the treatment of malignant tumors is known as radiation therapy.

When radioactive unsealed sources speak of metabolic radiotherapy, which involves injecting or to ingest a relatively large dose of a radioactive substance in liquid form, so that it accumulates in the organ to be treated, which acts through used of radiation emitted on fabrics in contact therewith, producing the desired destruction of tumor cells effects.

This type of therapy is used to treat hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer, bone metastases from prostate and breast tumors and can be used alone or in combination with other therapeutic means of medicine such as surgery or chemotherapy.

In the case of thyroid cancer Iodine-131 is used, that being gamma emitter, the patient is admitted to units which have special radiation protection units and specialized medical care personnel. Once the patient has been discharged, is carried out periodically a dosimetric control to monitor and verify, by low doses of gamma radiation, the patient can live with his family and the rest of the population.

Applications of radiation may be cited teletherapy and brachytherapy


The teletherapy is a nuclear medicine technique of radiation therapy in which the radioactive source is not in direct contact with the tumor target treatment.

Among the gamma emitters used, it highlights the encapsulated source of cobalt-60, contained in the so-called cobalt bomb, which prevents the exit of the radiation except for an orifice which provides a directed radiation.

Teletherapy produces high energy radiation (1.2 MeV) capable of irradiating large deep-seated tumors. Teletherapy sources may also be administered with issuers of electronic and neutron beams.


Brachytherapy is a nuclear medicine technique of radiation therapy in which the radioactive source is in direct contact with the tumor.

When the plates of radioactive material are placed on the tumor site is called surface brachytherapy, if this source is inserted temporarily into the patient, in natural cavities, speaking of intracavitary brachytherapy and encapsulated cesium-137 sources are used, and whether radioactive sources placed in certain tissues known as interstitial brachytherapy.

One of the problems of this therapy, also known as Curietherapy is possible unnecessary exposure of the patient and medical personnel to radiation sources, therefore, the source is placed in the correct position on the patient, and health workers used remote control commands to prepare, transport and handling of radioactive sources.

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Last review: October 2, 2015