Radium treatment for cancer

Updated April 17, 2017

As one of the first radioactive elements discovered, radium was naturally a candidate for use in targeted radiation therapy in treating cancer. Over time, science has evolved, and while radium can still accomplish the task at hand, newer methods and metals have taken its place.


Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal mutant cells within the body. These abnormal cells divide at such a rate that their growth far exceeds that of normal cells. Thus, over time, the cancerous cells will eventually dominate the natural tissues of the organism, rendering biological processes unable to be completed. Symptoms include fatigue, chills, fever, feelings of malaise, and unexplainable weight loss.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is still a popular alternative for treating cases of cancer. Radiation therapy uses high-energy radioactive waves to locally target the cancerous tissue. According to the National Cancer Institute, the applied radiation damages the genetic material of the cancerous cells, making it impossible for them to continue dividing.

Radium Therapy

Radium was one of the first metals used to perform a primitive version of radiation therapy. According to a Time magazine article from November 1925, over 100 cases of cancer were treated at Memorial Hospital using radium-based radiation therapy, with "very satisfactory" results reported.

Radium Therapy Procedure

Radiation therapy using radium consists of performing an invasive operation, during which small gold tubes containing radium are inserted into the affected tissue. Over time, these tubes leak mild amounts of radiation that locally poison the cancer-stricken areas of the body, after which the tubes are then removed from the patient.

Radium Therapy Today

According to the website, radium is no longer the preferred metal of choice for conducting these procedures. As of 2009, the nod is given to either indium or caesium. Despite this, the same general procedure is followed--the implantation of small devices around the infected tissue containing radioactive material.

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About the Author

TS Jordan is an Ohio licensed attorney living and practicing out of the Cleveland area. In addition to his Juris Doctorate, he holds a Bachelors' Degree in Information Systems. He has been writing professionally for less than a year.