Nuclear medicine uses radioactive material or radiation for medical purposes. These are used to determine how certain organs are functioning, find their precise locations, or discover the nature of any disorder. This method is often used on, for instance, a malfunctioning thyroid gland.
Working closely with the radio-oncologist, the specialist in nuclear medicine uses radioactive material to treat cancer. To treat prostate tumours, for instance, brachytherapy is used, where sources of radiation about the size of a grain of rice are applied directly to the prostate. The radiation destroys the tumour without damaging the surrounding tissue.
The specialist in nuclear medicine decides which cases can and should receive such treatment, and chooses the method best suited. He is also responsible for ensuring the safety of both patient and hospital personnel during the use of radioactive material and radiation.