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The Importance of Early Detection: Screening for Radiation-Related Illnesses

Radioactivity is part of the earth. Naturally, occurring radiation materials are present on the floor, crust, walls, and in the food you eat.

Plus, there are radioactive gases you breathe, not to mention your body, including tissues, muscles, and bones, have naturally occurring radioactive components.

This simply means man has always been exposed to radiation from outside and from the earth itself. The radiation you receive from the outside earth is referred to as cosmic rays or cosmic radiation.

Types of Radiation

Radiation is simply energy. It travels as high-speed particles or energy waves and can be man-made or natural. But in general, there are two types of radiation. These include the following:

  • Ionizing radiation – This includes gamma rays, radon, UV radiation, and x-rays.
  • Non-ionizing radiation – It includes cell phones, visible light, infrared radiation, microwaves, and radio waves.

Radiation-Related Illnesses

There are many illnesses caused by exposure to radiation. Some of the most common radiation-related illnesses may include all cancers, tumors of the CNS/brain, posterior subcapsular cataracts, parathyroid adenoma, and non-malignant thyroid nodular disease.

What to Do if You Get Exposed to Radiation

Unless you got exposed to a high dose of radiation during your cancer treatment, any increase in the risk for cancer because of medical radiation could be slight. But this isn’t for sure as the radiation effects take years to appear, and the increase in radiation dose had only occurred about four decades ago.

Until then, experts at UEW Healthcare suggest that you try to keep your exposure to any medical radiation as low as you can. You may do that in a few ways, including:

  • Considering a low-dose radiation test
  • Keeping track of X-ray history
  • Discussing high-dose diagnostic imaging with a clinician
  • Not seeking out scans
  • Considering less-frequent testing


This refers to simple tests across healthy populations to identify people who have diseases but their symptoms aren’t apparent yet. Perfect examples include visual inspection with acetic acid, papillomavirus test, cervical cancer screening through pap smears, and breast cancer screening through clinical breast exams or mammography.

Screening programs should be carried out only when a doctor has demonstrated their effectiveness or when resources are enough to cover almost all the target groups.

But even if it is implemented well, screening programs are still linked with undesirable side effects, including overdiagnosis, false negative screening tests, and false positive screening tests.

Who Needs a Screening Test?

The WHO (World Health Organization) has defined criteria for evaluating population-wide screening exams that can help to decide whether to have such an assessment. The criteria include the following:

  • Neutral information must be available to the public
  • There should be effective treatments for radiation-exposure illnesses
  • The screening test should be dependable enough
  • Screening tests must be done for illnesses with serious consequences

In a Nutshell

Some radiation-exposure illnesses, especially certain cancers, can be detected early when treatment is more effective. Screening tests have been improved to help detect those illnesses before symptoms become apparent. It is also thoughtful to know your body so that you can get medical help if you notice any abnormal changes, like spots growing on the skin.

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