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Radiation & Me

Family Members or Friends

External Beam Radiation Therapy

This type of radiation therapy does not cause the patient to become radioactive and be a source of radiation exposure to others. Therefore, contact with individuals receiving external radiation therapy does not have to be changed or limited.

Radioactive Materials Administered for Diagnosis or Therapy

If family members or friends have been administered radioactive materials for diagnosis or therapy, they will contain some residual radioactivity when they leave the facility. After a diagnostic procedure, they will be allowed to leave immediately unless there are other reasons for which they need to be hospitalized. In these cases, they have been administered a small amount of radioactive materials—only enough to successfully perform the procedure. There are no special concerns about interacting with them.

It might be different, however, if radioactive material was received for a therapy procedure. In some cases, patients might have to stay in the hospital for a few days because they received quite a bit of radioactivity. Even when they are allowed to go home, the amount of radioactivity they still have inside them may be more than they would have with a diagnostic procedure. Depending on when patients are allowed to leave and how much radioactivity was administered, there may or may not be any special precautions. In cases where additional guidelines are needed, patients are given instructions from the healthcare provider regarding extra precautions to be taken. Some of these precautions might include limiting time around children or someone who is pregnant. If you are a family member, you can discuss these precautions directly with the physician. If your friend underwent the procedure, he or she would have received the information and can discuss your concerns with you.