While there were lots of quack nostrums with radium in them, it also had real effects in treating cancer. For example, I once knew a dermatologist who had inherited a radium plaque when he bought his practice from a retiring practitioner. The plaque was a postage stamp sized metal square with a little radium in it, usually kept in a lead lined box. To deliver radiotherapy to a skin lesion, you would tape the plaque to the lesion and set a kitchen timer and leave the room. The plaque would give off, say, two units or radiation every 5 minutes, so if you needed 6 units you set the timer for 15:00. At the end of the session you would remove the plaque, wash it down with alcohol and put it back in its box. It was very expensive, but since it lasted 1600 years it was a real long term investment.
Here's the thing: when my friend looked over the inventory of equipment and furnishings for the practice, he found evidence that there were originally two plaques, but he could only find one! Just watch yourself if you ever visit Springfield Illinois!