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CT Radiation Linked to Increased Cancer Risk

December 15, 2009
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging
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Two new studies appearing in the December 14 Archives of Internal Medicine examine the effects of radiation from CT scans. In the first study, researchers at the National Cancer Institute developed a computer model to predict the number of cancer cases that may result from CT scans done on Americans in 2007. They estimated that the 70 million CT scans will cause 29,000 cancers, mostly in women.

In a separate study, researchers from the University of California at San Francisco looked at 1,119 CT scans done in four Bay Area hospitals in 2008. The team found that radiation doses varied widely, exposing patients up to four times as much radiation as earlier studies have suggested. Based on their findings, the researchers estimated that 1 in 270 women who had CT heart scans at age 40 will develop cancer, compared to 1 in 600 men. Roughly 1 in 8,100 women who had a CT head scan will get cancer, compared to 1 in 11,080 men. The risks about doubled for people in their twenties.

The use of CT scans has tripled since the early 1990s, with about 70 million now being done annually in the United States.

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