Nuclear medicine saves lives by diagnosing diseases, treating patients and sterilizing medical equipment.
Medical isotopes are the cornerstone of nuclear medicine. This branch of medical science uses radioactive sources, atoms and molecules to diagnose, characterize and treat disease.
Radiation from radioisotopes passes through people’s bodies, which is how X-rays work. When taking an X-ray, the radiation starts on one side of the person’s body and passes through the body to film on the other side. Nuclear imaging is similar.
At low doses of radiation, cells can repair themselves. At high doses, radiation can cause mutations in cells that can affect their health and potentially cause cancer. In radiation therapy, an extremely high dose damages only the targeted cells, so those cells can no longer reproduce, and they are destroyed.