Branch of medicine that uses radiation for diagnosis (diagnostic imaging) and treatment (radiation therapy) of disease. Originally, it involved X rays for diagnosis and X rays, gamma rays, and other ionizing radiation for treatment. Diagnostic methods now include isotope scanning (see nuclear medicine), use of nonionizing radiation, as in ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging, and radioimmunoassay (in which radioactive isotopes in antibodies against hormones detect minute amounts of hormones for diagnosis of endocrine disorders). Radiotherapy now includes, in cancer treatment, radioactive hormones and chemotherapeutic drugs.
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