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CT Scans: Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Risky
Date:3/30/2009

Patients who undergo numerous CT scans over their lifetime may be at increased risk for cancer, according to a study published in the April issue of Radiology.

Oak Brook, IL (Vocus) March 31, 2009 -- Patients who undergo numerous CT scans over their lifetime may be at increased risk for cancer, according to a study published in the April issue of Radiology.

“We found that while most patients accrue small cumulative cancer risks, 7 percent of the patients in our study had enough recurrent CT imaging to raise their estimated cancer risk by 1 percent or more above baseline levels,” said Aaron Sodickson, M.D., Ph.D., assistant director of Emergency Radiology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and researcher at the Center for Evidence-Based Imaging in Boston. “The techniques implemented in our study can be used to identify higher risk patients who might benefit from enhanced radiation protection efforts.”

CT has proven to be a valuable clinical tool, and its use has grown rapidly. According to a 2008 IMV Medical Information Division report, approximately 68.7 million CT exams were performed in the U.S. in 2007, up from 62 million in 2006. CT provides detailed images of internal organs and is a common technique used to make medical diagnoses and help guide medical treatment decisions. However, CT uses a higher radiation dose than most other imaging exams.

For the study, the researchers developed new methodology to estimate cumulative CT radiation doses and associated radiation-induced cancer risks at the level of the individual patient, by extracting each patient’s CT history from the electronic medical record and applying standard risk-estimation models that incorporate patient gender and age at exposure.

The study group was
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