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Lifetime cancer risk from heart imaging low for most children; rises with complex tests
Date:6/9/2014

vered in the tests, the researchers used a combination of existing data on radiation levels, as well as simulations that calculated radiation doses using child-sized "phantoms," or models to estimate radiation exposure.

The researchers found that most children had low exposure to radiation, amounting to less than the annual background exposure in the United States. However, certain groups of children, particularly those with more complex heart disease, were exposed to higher cumulative doses from repeated tests and high-exposure imaging.

Abdominal and chest X-rays accounted for 92 percent of the imaging tests, but only 19 percent of the radiation exposure. Advanced imaging (CT and catheterization) made up only 8 percent of imaging tests performed, but accounted for 81 percent of radiation exposure.

The researchers estimated the average increase in lifetime cancer risk to be 0.07 percent, with the risk increase ranging from 0.002 percent for chest X-rays to 0.4 percent for complex imaging.

"Clinicians need to weigh the risks and benefits of different imaging studies, including those with higher radiation exposure," Hill said. "We're not proposing eliminating complex imaging in fact, they're critically important to patients but we can make significant improvements by prioritizing tests and simply recognizing the importance of reducing radiation exposure in children."

The researchers also noted that lifetime cancer risk was increased among girls and children who had imaging tests done at very young ages. Girls had double the cancer risk of boys because of their increased chances of developing breast and thyroid cancers.


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Contact: Rachel Harrison
rachel.harrison@duke.edu
919-419-5069
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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