New research indicates that CT scans pose potential cancer risks to children. The study was funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the U.K. Department of Health, was published online in the Lancet today. CT scans pose potential cancer risks from associated ionizing radiation, especially if he or she had a previous scan.
Researchers said the use of CT scans in children to deliver cumulative doses of about 50 mGy might almost triple the risk of leukemia, and doses of about 60 mGy might triple the risk of brain cancer. Because these cancers are relatively rare, the cumulative absolute risks are small: In the 10 years after the first scan for patients younger than age 10, one excess case of leukemia and one excess case of brain tumor per 10,000 head CT scans is estimated to occur. Clinical benefits should outweigh the small absolute risks, but radiation doses from CT scans ought to be kept as low as possible, and alternative procedures that do not involve ionizing radiation should be considered.
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