Does Radiation Make You Radioactive?

Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: January 26, 2012


Does radiation make you or your body fluids radioactive? Should I take any precautions at home since I have children?


Michael Corradetti, MD, PhD, Radiation Oncology Resident at Penn Medicine, responds:

Radiation therapy for gynecologic malignancies is typically delivered in two ways.

External beam radiation therapy involves the delivery of high-energy X-rays or particles to a tumor or a tumor bed, from the outside of the body to the inside of the body. Patients often receive daily treatments, Monday through Friday, over the course of 6-8 weeks. Treatments take approximately 20 minutes to deliver, and the radiation passes through the body instantaneously. Patients are not radioactive afterwards.

A second form of radiation therapy -- brachytherapy -- involves the implantation or insertion of radioactive sources into a body cavity or a tumor. The radiation sources, once removed, do not leave radioactivity within the body.

Learn more about radiation therapy on OncoLink.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Gynecologic Cancers transcript.