Radiation Definitions

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Radiation Definitions

Radiation- A type of invisible energy that can be used as part of cancer treatment.

Radioactive – A term used to describe something that emits or “gives off” radiation.

Radioisotope – A naturally occuring radioactive substance. In this case, iodine-131 is the radioisotope used in MIBG therapy.

Half-life – As radioisotopes emit radiation, they “decay”or become weaker. The half-life is the amount of time it takes for a radioisotope to emit only half as much radiation. The half-life of iodine-131 is 8 days. Other radioisotopes have half-lives that range from seconds to many years.

Dosimeter – A small device that can be worn used to detect the presence of the radiation dose over (similar to an odometer in a car).

Radiation meter – An electronic device used to detect the presence of radiation and measure radiation levels.

Contamination – The presence of a radioisotope (such as iodine-131) in an unwanted area. For example, radiation found on the soles of shoes or in the hallway outside the MIBG treatment room. Contamination, in this case, is essentially the presence of iodine-131 MIBG anywhere but in the patient’s body or in the toilet (where the urine is disposed of).

Lead shield – Thick barriers made of lead, which is a very dense material. It stops or “absorbs” almost all of the radiation from iodine-131.