Beware the CT Scan?
There's more evidence out today that CT scans and other medical procedures that expose patients to radiation may be putting many Americans at risk.
While CT scans and other procedures are very useful for accurately diagnosing a variety of medical conditions, a growing body of evidence has been raising concerns that they are being used so often that the radiation exposure they subject patients to may be increasing the risk for cancer.
In a new study published in today's New England Journal of Medicine, Reza Fazel of Emory University and colleagues studied nearly 1 million adults ages 18 to 64 between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2007. During that period, 655,613 of those in the study -- nearly 70 percent -- underwent at least one procedure that involved exposing them to radiation. That essentially doubled the amount of radiation they were exposed to compared to the amount they would have received from natural sources. Nearly 20 percent received at least moderate annual doses of radiation from diagnostic tests and about 2 percent had high doses. Based on the findings, the researchers estimated that 4 million adults might be getting high doses of radiation exposure each year from medical imaging.
In an article accompanying the study, Michael Lauer of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says the study provides more evidence for the need for more research into the risks and benefits of such procedures. Doctors also have to do a better job of keeping track of how many such tests their patients are getting.
Since 1992, the number of CT scans has quadrupled, he noted, and other research has estimated that as many as 2 percent of cancers could be attributed to radiation from CT scans.
August 27, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Cancer , Cardiovascular Health , General Health , Health Policy , Medical Technology
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