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Ionizing Radiation – Carcinogenesis

by Carlo Raj, MD
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    00:01 Here we have ionizing radiation. On X-rays i'll have to walk you through what's known as gamma, alpha, beta particles, and why that's important to you. You will do that in a little bit.

    00:10 And another reason that this also become important to us is that even to this day, especially in a day where we are looking for alternative energy there are societies out there that well for whatever reasons promote nuclear energy. The point is this. Because we have pratically speaking nuclear energy out there there is every possibility that accidents occur. In fact, Chernobyl. In fact, the far east the recent explosion with Japan. What does that mean to you. Fifty, sixty years later, these patients are still coming in with a cold nodule in the thyroid. Welcome to papillary cancer of the thyroid. These things never go away.

    00:52 Is that clear. These things will be aroud for a long period of time. It's important that you take a proper history of your patient. Uranium - Lung cancer. Head and Neck radiation - Thyroid cancer. Radium dial watchers - osteosarcoma.

    01:10 I was talking to another patient the other day. It was amazing. And his family came from New England. Came from radium dial watchers. And the way that it worked up in Connecticut is that they took such pride in making their watches, that the way in which that they would then paint their 'dial' on their watch was great pride, with ink that then contained radium. So what do they do? They would then take this, we'll call it a pen, felt tip, or what not and dip it into the radium and lick it. Imagine doing that for 10, 15, 20 years.

    01:54 Imagine doing that for the rest of your life. What are you going to then develop? A sarcoma.

    02:00 Radiologist. Less so now because of proper protection but there is every possibility that your radiologist due to all that exposure to radiation at risk for perhaps leukaemias but not as much. But keep that in mind as well.

    02:18 With radiation we'll walk through alpha, beta, gamma. We will take a look at alpha first.

    02:22 Alpha particle. Least dangerous of the three in terms of external exposure. They don't penetrate the skin well and clothing can actually stop the alpha particles from getting in. However, if alpha particles are to be inhaled and the common or very common cause of lung cancer in non-smokers could be exposure to radon gas. So therefore this is no joke.

    02:49 So eventhough by definition external exposure least dangerous, if radon is inhaled or ingested, seriously lung cancer.

    03:02 Non-smokers, do not forget about radon gas and alpha particles. Let's talk about beta. The beta particles are much more quicker.

    03:13 Small size. These will pass through the skin and through clothing. External exposure can cause burn and tissue damage and so radiation sickness is what this is called. Beta particles. If radioactive materials enter food or water supplies which is a big deal, dispersed into the air. Now the patient not even knowing that he or she has been exposed to such things.

    03:41 So, it's really important that you pay attention to history. Where are they? Where do they live? Are they around perhaps a nuclear reactor? Are they then perhaps consuming the water which is a big deal even to this day because how do you get rid of some of your nuclear waste. Well supposedly you dig so deep into the earth that perhaps you try to keep it there but imagine a society that's near there and every once in a while you will find that with your patient. So pay attention to exposure to water sources or food sources and farms and company in which unbeknownst to the patient might be exposed to beta particles. Alpha, beta and we have left, gamma.

    04:25 Gamma are the most dangerous with ionizing radiation however with that said, I gave you specific examples for alpha with radon. If you're exposed to gamma rays, they pass through the entire body. We're talking about everything in your body being suppressed. The bone has been suppressed. The bone marrow has been suppressed. Organs have been damaged.

    04:48 Gamma rays.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Ionizing Radiation – Carcinogenesis by Carlo Raj, MD is from the course Cellular Pathology: Basic Principles.


    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Lung cancer
    2. Thyroid cancer
    3. Osteosarcoma
    4. Skin cancer
    5. Myeloid leukemias
    1. Electrons move very quickly
    2. Can be stopped by clothing
    3. Can be ingested or inhaled
    4. Associated with lung cancer linked to radon gas
    5. Least dangerous in terms of external exposure
    1. Beta particles
    2. Alpha particles
    3. Uranium exposure
    4. Radon inhalation
    5. Gamma rays

    Author of lecture Ionizing Radiation – Carcinogenesis

     Carlo Raj, MD

    Carlo Raj, MD


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