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Children Who Have CT Scans May Face Higher Cancer Risk
Date:5/22/2013

WEDNESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teens exposed to radiation during CT scans are 24 percent more likely to develop cancer, according to a large, long-term study.

The risks, however, are still low: Among a group of 10,000 young people who each had one CT scan, only about six extra cancers would be expected to occur within 10 years, according to researchers from Australia and Europe.

The researchers said doctors should carefully weight the risks to patients when making decisions about CT (computed tomography) testing. The study was published online May 21 in the journal BMJ.

The researchers used data from Australian Medicare records and national cancer records to compare cancer rates among patients who had a CT scan by age 19 to those who had never undergone the test.

The study involved nearly 11 million young people born between 1985 and 2005. The average length of follow-up for those who underwent a CT scan was 9.5 years, and about 17 years for those who did not have a CT scan.

Of the participants, about 680,000 had a CT scan at least one year before they were diagnosed with cancer. Among those diagnosed with cancer, 18 percent had more than one scan.

By the last follow-up in 2007, the researchers found that 3,150 of those who had a CT scan and about 57,500 of those who didn't had been diagnosed with cancer.

After taking the participants' age, gender and year of birth into account, the rate of cancer was 24 percent higher among those who had a CT scan. That risk increased by 16 percent for each additional scan.

Nearly 60 percent of CT scans involved the brain, according to a BMJ news release. Although the prevalence of brain cancer among those who had a CT scan decreased over time, the study authors found that the incidence was still higher more than 15 years after they had their first scan.

Children exposed before age 5 had the greatest risk. The older
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