Is a person dangerous after radiation therapy with Oncology?

Is a person dangerous after radio (radiation) therapy in oncology?

Is a person dangerous after procedures related to cancer treatment with radiation?

Spoiler: The answer depends on the type of treatment.

This issue worries many of the sick and the relatives of the sick. To begin with, we need to understand that with the help of radiation (ionizing radiation), they are treated in three ways.

  1. Radiotherapy.
  2. Radionuclide therapy/ diagnostics.
  3. The third way… it is mainly used for the treatment of female diseases.

Radiotherapy.

Treatment in this section of medicine is carried out with the help of a directed beam of gamma radiation created either by electronic installations or by a unit with an active substance. The purpose of this therapy is to burn out the tumor.

Or the supply of such a dose of radiation radiation to radiosensitive tumor cells, in which they will begin to die, despite the fact that healthy cells of the body will remain relatively intact and will be able to regenerate.

In general, the process is quite complicated, but doctors know what they are doing. For us, to answer the question, we need to understand only one thing. The process of irradiating a tumor is comparable to fluorography or X-ray. After X-ray or fluorography, a person does not become radioactive (does not become a source of ionizing radiation), accordingly, even after radiotherapy, a person will not be radioactive and dangerous to others.

Is a person dangerous after radio (radiation) therapy in oncology? Figure No. 1
This is what the procedure looks like – fluorography.
Is a person dangerous after radio (radiation) therapy in oncology? Figure No. 2
And this is what the radiotherapy procedure looks like. The device for radiotherapy, as you can see, is more high-tech.

Radionuclide therapy/ diagnostics.

When implementing this method of treatment, radioactive substances are injected into the body through special injections or droppers (in some cases, radioactive substances can be drunk). Usually such procedures are prescribed for the treatment of thyroid cancer, with the help of radioactive iodine or for diagnosis (other substances).

In the case of diagnostics, the power of the radioactive substance is low. In the treatment, drugs that create higher doses of radiation are used.

Is a person dangerous after radio (radiation) therapy in oncology? Figure No. 3
As a rule, the process of administration of a radionuclide drug is not much different from the process of administration of any other drug.

So, after injecting a radioactive drug into a person’s body, a person becomes radioactive for a while. In this case, I would really like to avoid the phrase “danger to other people”.

But we must admit that the radiation coming from people who have undergone radionuclide therapy is not very good for health… So, the degree of harm to others from the radiation of a person who has passed through therapy / diagnosis depends:

  • From the substance that was injected into the body.
  • From the distance at which you are from the person who is the source of ionizing radiation.
  • From your specific position regarding the organ in which the substance could accumulate.
  • From the time elapsed since the introduction of the radioactive drug.

There is something else that I might have forgotten to describe here, but that’s enough to start with. This all means that until a drug comes out of a person, it is worth keeping a short distance from him (in standard situations, a meter is quite enough). But as we understand it, hugging or carrying children in your arms should be excluded for a while.

In general, with such procedures, people are given detailed instructions about the rules of behavior, and also, they are kept for some time (a couple of days) in special hotels. This is done so that in a couple of days some of the radioactive substances come out of the patient and he becomes less harmful to others.

But sometimes, people are released earlier for some reason, and in general, the standards of many organizations are designed so that when discharged, the patient is still a source of radiation.

Therefore, if you really want to cuddle or be close (for example, to sleep) you are close to your loved ones, and the allotted time in the hospital has not passed or you have forgotten it – go to the radiation hygiene department of the sanitary service of your city or to a similar service where dosimeters are available and ask you to check. I think the experts will not refuse you.

Another unpleasant consequence of this therapy:

The injected substance will decompose into non-radioactive isotopes (other substances), or is excreted naturally. When we talk about natural ways of removing radioactive drugs, we are talking about:

  1. sweat
  2. urine
  3. excrement

The listed 3 ways of removing drugs are the main ones. This means that they impose additional restrictions in addition to distancing themselves from the patient:

  • In a good way, you should not interact with the patient’s underwear, which could come into contact with his secretions.
  • Underwear and personal hygiene items that have come into contact with secretions should be disposed of or stored strictly in accordance with the instructions given at discharge from the hospital. (they are different in each country + it all depends on the course of treatment / diagnosis).

    Is a person dangerous after radio (radiation) therapy in oncology? Figure No. 4
    Do not mindlessly throw away personal belongings and personal hygiene items if they may be contaminated with radioactive substances or radioactive secretions from a person.

Things and personal hygiene items that have come into contact with the secretions of a patient who has undergone radionuclide therapy / diagnosis can also be sources of radiation (ionizing radiation).

The third way. Radiation treatment of diseases in the female part.

I have singled out this item separately, because of the specifics of the treatment. In one of the variations of the treatment of uterine cancer, radionuclide drugs are used. This is not the first method where generated radiation is used. And not the second way, where a radioactive substance is injected into a person’s blood.

The bottom line is that in the treatment of uterine cancer, a special probe is inserted into the vagina, inside of which there is a radioactive substance. As it is clear from the description, the substance is inside the probe, and therefore does not enter the human body. So that after the procedure, the patient is not a source of radiation (ionizing radiation).

Conclusion.

In general, I would like to say that everything is not as scary as it may seem. In life, we often encounter radiation. When we fly high in the sky on an airplane, when we undergo fluorography or do an X-ray.

Additional radiation from a patient or a person close to you will not be useful for you. But it is not necessary to bypass such people in 100 steps. It is enough to follow the instructions of the doctors and everything will be fine.

I also want to remind you that in this article, I tried to tell you very simply about quite specific and complex processes, so the article is introductory.

Is a person dangerous after radio (radiation) therapy in oncology? Figure No. 5
That’s the thought… Radiation is not scary and not terrible, if you know how to interact with it, and the distances at which it is safe to be from its source, everything will be fine.

Also, you can read the Wikipedia article about radiotherapy and radionuclide therapy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation_therapy

You may also find an article about how radiation affects the human body useful:

https://radiation-info.com/en/2021/08/25/how-does-radiation-affect-people-how-to-protect-yourself-from-radiation-myths/

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