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Scatter radiation from mammography presents no cancer risk
Date:11/26/2012

ct, all areas except for the sternum received less than 2 percent of annual background radiation dose.

Measured dose to the bridge of the eye and umbilicus was negligible, indicating no increased risk to the patient of cataracts or interference with normal embryonic development in early pregnancy.

"The risk of cancer induction at these low levels is indistinguishable from background incidence of cancer due to other sources," Dr. Chetlen said.

The findings are particularly important in light of a recent increase in the incidence of thyroid cancer, one of the most radiosensitive of all cancers. The number of thyroid cancer diagnoses in women nearly doubled from 2000 to 2008, leading some to suspect that mammography may be a contributing factor and that women should wear lead thyroid shields during exams, an idea that Dr. Chetlen and other mammography experts strongly discourage.

Based on the extremely low scatter radiation dose to the thyroidequivalent to just a few minutes of background radiation, thyroid shields are unnecessary during mammography. In addition, the researchers warn that use of thyroid shields could result in an increased radiation dose to patients.

"A thyroid shield gets in the way of the exam and can actually cause an increase in radiation dose by necessitating repeat exams," Dr. Chetlen said.

Dr. Chetlen also pointed out that the thyroid gland is far less radiosensitive after age 30. The American Cancer Society and other organizations recommend that women have mammography screening once every year, beginning at age 40.

"In the age group eligible for screening, the thyroid gland is not very radiosensitive," Dr. Chetlen said.


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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert

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