Nuclear Medicine: Cause for Concern?

Posted on: 29 October 2018

Given that it sounds so complex and utilises radiation, it may be alarming to hear that you're being referred for 'nuclear medicine'. However, there's no need to be alarmed. Not only is this branch of medicine well-developed and understood at this stage, but there are also several other reasons why you don't need to be concerned. Here are just a couple of them to settle your mind.

Levels of Radiation

Nuclear medicine uses only the smallest amount of radiation necessary. While small amounts of radiation can be harmful if you're exposed to them inexpertly and consistently over a long period of time, these treatments are specifically designed to be administered by professionals, and for a set period of time. This means that nuclear medicine is entirely safe for you as a patient—no need to be concerned about how it will impact your body.


Because nuclear medicine is sometimes used as part of oncological treatment, patients who have not been diagnosed with cancer may be worried that being referred for nuclear medicine means that they must have it. This isn't the case. Your doctor will keep you well up to date with your health and won't hide your diagnosis from you. In any case, nuclear medicine is most often used for diagnosis of various illnesses, not for cancer treatment—so if you're being referred, chances are that's why. You may also be referred for an X-ray at the same time; the processes go hand-in-hand and should be considered on par with one another in terms of seriousness. That is to say, they're nothing to worry about!

Procedures and Pain

If something is said to be 'nuclear', it can mean 'extreme', but don't worry. That's not the case with nuclear medicine. In fact, treatment is not painful or challenging at all. Patients are simply injected with a well-controlled small amount of radioactive material, which then passes through the area of your body that's being analysed or diagnosed. This substance, called a 'tracer', allows your doctor to gain more information about how your body is performing and whether it has any defects. All you'll need to handle is the initial injection.

In short, there's nothing about nuclear medicine that should alarm you. Your referral will ensure that your medical professionals have as much information about you, your body and your condition as possible, and it will allow them to treat you better. That can only be a good thing.