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FDA Seeks Reduction in Radiation From Medical Scans
Date:2/9/2010

Unnecessary exposure from CT scans and fluoroscopes may increase cancer risk, officials say ,,

TUESDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration unveiled a plan Tuesday to reduce radiation exposure from three types of increasingly widespread imaging procedures: computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine studies and fluoroscopy.

These three imaging techniques are the largest contributors to total radiation exposure among Americans. They use much higher radiation doses than other imaging procedures, such as standard X-rays, dental X-rays and mammography, potentially increasing the lifetime risk of cancer, the agency said.

In addition to the cancer risk, accidental radiation exposure can result in injuries, such as burns, hair loss and cataracts.

"The amount of radiation Americans are exposed to from medical imaging has dramatically increased over the past 20 years," Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a prepared statement. "The goal of FDA's initiative is to support the benefits associated with medical imaging while minimizing the risks."

While the extent of the cancer risk is a topic of debate, most experts agree that exposure to unnecessary radiation from these devices should be reduced. For example, the radiation from a CT scan of the abdomen is the equivalent of about 400 chest X-rays -- and a dental X-ray has about half the radiation of chest X-ray, the FDA said.

The agency noted that the benefits of CT, nuclear medicine and fluoroscopic imaging are considerable, because they've led to "early diagnosis of disease, improved treatment planning, and image-guided therapies that help save lives every day."

The FDA said it's encouraging dialogue between patients and their doctors to review the medical benefits and risks that come with these types of imaging procedures.

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