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With Testicular Cancer, CT Scan Benefit May Beat Risks
Date:12/18/2012

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Repeat CT scans deliver a big dose of potentially hazardous radiation over time, but the short-term benefit may outweigh the long-term risk for men with testicular cancer, a new study suggests.

With Americans getting more and more CT scans, concerns exist about the potential for that radiation exposure to raise a person's cancer risk years later.

Last month, a study found that having multiple chest CTs may slightly raise a woman's risk of breast cancer later in life.

But CT scans can be important in diagnosing or treating an injury or disease, including many cancers. Doctor use them to guide biopsies, or to see whether chemotherapy is shrinking a tumor, for example.

Men who've had surgery for testicular cancer routinely have follow-up CT scans for a number of years, to try to spot any recurrence.

The new study, reported Dec. 18 in the journal Radiology, tried to estimate a man's lifetime risk of dying from a radiation-related cancer versus his more immediate risk of dying from a testicular cancer recurrence.

Researchers found that the short-term benefits appeared worth it. For a 33-year-old man, the small risk of dying from testicular cancer -- about a 0.6 percent chance -- was still slightly larger than the risk of dying later in life from a radiation-linked cancer, at about 0.5 percent.

And the life expectancy loss from testicular cancer was significantly higher, since the disease would likely kill a man at a much younger age.

"Risks incurred later in life are not the same as more immediate risks," said lead researcher Dr. Pari Pandharipande, an assistant professor radiology at Harvard Medical School and an abdominal radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"This type of study is not meant to imply that there aren't risks" from CT scans, Pandharipande stressed. But, she said, "the risks are s
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