Bio materials

How cobalt-60 use in treatment of cancer?

Introduction about cobalt and cobalt-60:

Cobalt-60 is an isotope of Cobalt (59Co) which means Cobalt-60 is differs from cobalt by number of neutrons present in nucleus. They are different in atomic mass not in atomic number. And cobalt (59Co) is a chemical element having atomic number 27 and standard atomic weight 58.933. Cobalt (59Co) is naturally occur non-radioactive element.

Cobalt (59Co) has four types of isotope such as 56Co, 57Co, 58Co, 60Co. If we talk about natural abundance of Cobalt (59Co) has 100% and other form of isotope such as 56Co, 57Co, 58Co, 60Co having 0%. And half life Cobalt (59Co) is stable & non radioactive while other 56Co, 57Co, 58Co, 60Co respectively 77 days, 270 days, 71.3 days and 5.27 years. Isotopes are radioactive.

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History of Cobalt-60:                           

Dr. Harold E. Johns was a Canadian medical physicist in University of Saskatchewan. In 1949, he was sent request to national research council (NRC) of Canada and asked to use of cobalt-60 radiation therapy for treatment of cancer. Got permission from NRB to use cobalt-60 radiation therapy, and he treated first patient in October 27, 1951 at the war memorial children’s hospital in London. Cobalt-60 therapy adopted in 1961 to replaces the X-ray radiotherapy.

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How does cobalt-60 work in treatment of cancer?

Cobalt-60 used in external radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. As Cobalt-60 decays into a stable Nickel-60 isotope and two wavelength β and ϒ emitted. Gamma (ϒ) rays help to destroy cancer cells. Gamma-rays are emitted energy (1.17 and 1.33 MeV-and take average 1.25 MeV used).

Radiation therapy is in use previous 60 years. Conbalt-60 is use with an instrument known as gamma knife. The gamma rays emitted by cobalt-60 are utilize by the radiotherapy instrument which is highly effective in precisely delivering a high dose of radiation to the tumor area and therefore take care about surrounding healthy tissue.

Image of gamma knife(pic credit: www.gutenberg.org )

Approximately 70% of world-wide cancer survivors use the Cobalt-60 radiation therapy because of high effectiveness and good reliability.

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Other uses of Cobalt-60:

Gamma radiations emitted by cobalt-60 is used to kill bacteria and other pathogens. Cobalt-60 is also commonly used in industrial areas such as leveling the industrial equipment. In particular, isotope (Cobalt-60) of cobalt is used in industrial radiography where radiation is used for non-destructive detection of structural flaws in metal parts.

A wide range of other products and materials benefit from exposure to ionizing radiation. Other applications include: it modify the polymers and improve their thermal and mechanical characteristics.

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Cobalt-60 is also used for research/development to design and testing of components in the scientific applications such as aerospace and nuclear energy industries.

This summary explained how Cobalt-60 use as external radiation therapy in treatment of cancer and this is one of effective therapy for world-wide cancer sufferer.  Also discussed cobalt-60 is an isotope of cobalt, working of cobalt-60 in the treatment of cancer as well as other uses of cobalt-60. This article provides you overall view of external radiation therapy by cobalt-60.

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K Yashdeep

Hye there..! I am Yashdeep Kamal. I completed my Bachelor in Technology(Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering). Engineer by passion, writer by choice. I have been writing about Composites, Ceramics, polymers, nanotechnology, advance materials and metallurgy etc. You can read about these topics here. Hope it may help you.

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