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Patient safety highlights American Association of Physicists in Medicine
Date:7/15/2010

EF="http://www.aapm.org/meetings/amos2/pdf/49-14431-74473-551.pdf">http://www.aapm.org/meetings/amos2/pdf/49-14431-74473-551.pdf


4) Cancer Risks From Radiation Should Include Age, Sex

PHILADELPHIA, PA (July 19, 2010) -- The technique currently used in hospitals across the country to assess the cancer risk associated with CT scans doesn't take into account a patient's age or sex. But it should, according to Walter Huda of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, who will present data today at the 52nd meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) suggesting that these factors can have a significant impact on risk.

CT scans image the human body with X-ray radiation that can increase a person's chance of getting cancer. Radiologists estimate this risk with a number called an effective dose -- a calculation that includes both the dosage received by different tissues in the body and the sensitivity of different organs to these doses.

A typical chest X-ray scan might have an effective dose of 0.02 millisieverts. A CT scan of the abdomen, about 8 millisieverts.

"The assumption is often that a millisievert is a millsievert is a millisievert," says Huda. "But it's a very crude indicator of patient risk that can overestimate or underestimate your actual risk."

Using data from the National Research Council's committee on the Biological Effect of Ionizing Radiations (BIER), the most authoritative source on radiation risks, Huda investigated other factors that could impact a patient's risk.

He found that risk levels depended on the type of procedure being performed.

"A pelvic CT scan, an abdomen CT scan, or a chest CT scan might all have effective doses of 10 millisieverts, but the risks for each of those doses could vary by a factor of two or three," says Huda.

The sex of the person being scanned was also important. On average, a chest CT s
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Contact: Jason Bardi
jbardi@gmail.com
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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