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Introduction: Radiation therapy is the utilization of radiation in order to treat diseases like cancer as well as to detect other ailments that someone may have. Since the development of radiation therapy many advancements have been made both to the process of using radiation itself, which in turn increased its effectiveness for medical use, and to the study of other possible uses for radiation. The concepts behind radiation therapy are not overly complicated, but they are still revolutionary ideas that have greatly impacted society and people’s wellness. Development of Radiation Therapy: The beginnings of radiation therapy were a result of x-rays, first discovered by a German physicist named Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. During experimentation with electricity, he found that certain types of energy were able to pass through his body and produce an image of his skeletal structure.
Radiation has been successfully applied to addressing a great variety of global issues; arguably most importantly that of medicine. Medical uses of radiation commonly include modern diagnostic and treatment techniques such as X-rays, radionuclides and radiotherapy (International Atomic Energy Agency, 2004). In the context of X-rays, the use of radiation is most recognised in four individually focused treatments, the first of these being the Chest X-ray. This particular diagnostic examination is used to confirm patients as fit for surgery or else distinguish diseases of the lung such as emphysema, pneumonia and lung cancer (The American Association of Physics Teachers, 2007). The X-ray picture is able to be printed though the use of specialized X-ray machines.
This treatment utilises gamma rays (photon beams). A photon is a bundle of energy that can vary based on the type. In this case gamma is the highest giving a large, powerful, precise treatment (National Cancer Institute, 2014). Another type of type of radiation therapy used gamma rays also although instead of leaving radiation behind like the previous treatment it gets rid of most of the energy at the end of their path and less along the way, helping living tissue surrounding the tumour be less effected and treatment to be given in one session (American Cancer Society, 2013). When the whole brain is treated using radiotherapy many side effects can come about.
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The invention of an automated scanner, called a radioscope, was invented by Benedict Cassen (Blahd, 2000). This new discovery helped physicians diagnose their patients with hyperthyroidism. In the 1960’s, nuclear medicine became recognized as a specialty. The wheels continued to turn and more advancements were made. In the 1970’s, most of the human body could now be visualized using nuclear medicine (What is Nuclear Medicine, 2008).