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More Computed Tomography May Mean More Cancer Risk

Last Updated: December 16, 2009.

The growing use of computed tomography scans will cause thousands more cases of cancer in the future, according to a study published in the Dec. 14/28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, while a second study in the same issue found that the dose and cancer risk of CT scans varies widely from case to case.

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- The growing use of computed tomography (CT) scans will cause thousands more cases of cancer in the future, according to a study published in the Dec. 14/28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, while a second study in the same issue found that the dose and cancer risk of CT scans varies widely from case to case.

Amy Berrington de González, of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues used risk models to calculate age-specific cancer risk for CT scans and found that CT scans performed in the United States in 2007 could account for 29,000 future cases of cancer, with abdominal and pelvic scans the biggest contributor, followed by scans of the chest and head.

Rebecca Smith-Bindman, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of the 11 most common CT scans performed on 1,119 adults and found that there was significant variation in terms of radiation dose, and that cancer risk attributable to CT scans also varied widely.

"The radiation exposure associated with CT has increased substantially over the past two decades, and efforts need to be undertaken to minimize radiation exposure from CT, including reducing unnecessary studies, reducing the dose per study, and reducing the variation in dose across patients and facilities," the authors write.

An author from the first study reported a financial relationship with Siemens Medical Systems.

Abstract - Berrington de Gonazález
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Abstract - Smith-Bindman
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