Hugo Chavez said regarding his cancer:
It would not be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now ... I don't know. I'm just reflecting
But then again mice with suppressed immune systems, can easily be infected with cancer.
So, let's assume that state actors have access to technology not available to ordinary criminals, like free electron lasers (XFEL) or a similar device that can create x-ray beams sufficiently collimated and intense as to reach a distant (e.g. 100m) target. Also the device is sufficiently small as to be able to fit inside a room or even a truck. Also assume that the rate is low enough as to avoid Acute Radiation Syndrome.
Such crimes can be prevented in two ways.
- Either the damage to the victim is prevented or
- the criminals are exposed.
Therefore, examining the following in the answers might be useful:
- Counter-measures that can prevent or reduce the dose (e.g. house walls material, clothing material, diet, etc)
- A detection of radiation would be considered a counter-measure, since it would no longer be stealthy. Could an ordinary journalist detect such incidents? I'd love a detailed analysis of radiation detecting devices.
- Specific signs and symptoms that indicate exposure to x-rays or gamma rays (e.g. skin redness, nausea)
- Diagnostic tests indicative of such exposure.
I know cancer is a random process and not all people will get cancer by being irradiated. Also cancer patients can often live for decades. However, I am absolutely certain that if it's possible to be done without being detected, then it is done against high value dissidents or high profile political targets that would otherwise be active and efficient for decades to come.
A 30% success rate within 5 years at the cost of 1 million $, is something many governments would love.
Note: Although rather impossible due to complexity, honeypots and lack of access to devices and facilities, please avoid describing methods that ordinary criminals can use. I'd like to know what a multi-billion dollar actor with diplomatic immunity and access to state-of-the-art technology can do. But most importantly, how to get them behind bars.
Also, this question is not about radioisotopes that require inhalation or ingestion. It's about x-rays and gamma rays.
On the bright side, perhaps this method has serious constraints in range due to ionization of the air.