Radioterapy

Introduction:This essay is about how a radioisotope (Cobalt 60) is used
in radiotherapy to help cure or lessen the affects of cancer cells in a
patient. I will also be writing about how science was applied to solve this
problem and why Cobalt 60 is the best medical option. Problem:Cancer starts to develop when a person’s cells divide
repeatedly without stopping and spreading into surrounding tissue. In a normal
heathy person cells grow and divide to form new cells to accommodate for the
body. When cells grow old or become damaged they normally die and new cells are
created to replace them. When cancer develops this processed is changed and
affects the patient in a multitude of ways. During the patient’s life time the
cancer cells will continue to become abnormal and old or damaged cells survive
when they should die, and new cells form when they are not needed. These extra
cells can divide without stopping and if not stopped will cause solid masses in
the body known as tumors. Solution:Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to treat disease. It can be
given both externally and internally. External radiotherapy works by using a
machine that can produce high energy rays which can affect a large area of the
body. Internal radiotherapy involves having a piece of radioactive material
placed inside your body. Radiotherapy works by destroying cancer cells in the
area that’s being treated. Normal cells can also be damaged by radiotherapy,
which may cause side effects. Cancer cells cannot repair themselves after
radiotherapy, but normal cells usually can. Cobalt 60 is a radioactive form of
cobalt and is created by exposing cobalt to the radiations of a nuclear reactor.
Cobalt 60 can also be used as a makeshift x-ray to see any foreign objects
contained in a human body. The advantages of cobalt-60 over radium lie in lower
cost, more homogeneous gamma radiation and it is not as radioactive as other
isotopes which allows it to be used for medial purposes, It can be moved with
ease as its radioactivity is not large enough to harm people and its ability to
be changed shape wise into any form before irradiation to fit special
requirements is why it is extremely important. Cobalt 60 is introduced into
radiotherapy because it is the radioisotope used in the high energy rays as, gamma
rays. Cobalt 60 is mostly used in external radiotherapy and was used instead of
linear accelerators. Economic factor:Since using Cobalt 60 is more efficient and needs reduced
maintenance, running costs and downtime when compared with linear accelerators
which is why they are the prime choice when cancer patients are being treated.  Setbacks:The major problem with Cobalt 60 is the rate at which it
decays, reducing the output results in increased treatment times which in turn
will effectively reduce the amount of patient output. The source needs to be
replaced every 5-7 years and is becoming more and more expensive and is also
hard to get. Another major problem is the radioactive waste that is left behind
when using Cobalt 60 which our current technology there is no way we can
effectively contain that much amount of waste.Conclusion:

To conclude Cobalt 60 is the prime choice when we are trying
to help cancer patients but it does come with certain setbacks that could cause
harm to other people as well. While Cobalt 60 might be a lot easier t use it is
much harder to maintain with our current knowledge of waste management.