Some experts question that estimate. Meanwhile, explaining the radiation risks of necessary imaging without unduly frightening patients remains daunting.
By Kevin B. O’Reilly, AMNews staff.
A recent study estimates that between 1.5% and 2% of all cancers can be attributed to radiation from the 62 million computed tomography scans Americans get each year. The finding comes on the heels of earlier, similar risk estimates, and it has some experts saying physicians should think twice about ordering the test.
The review article in the
The authors, David J. Brenner, PhD, and Eric J. Hall, PhD, are professors at
CTs deliver radiation doses many times that of other forms of radiography. An abdominal CT, for example, delivers at least 50 times more radiation to the stomach than an abdominal x-ray. While the authors estimate that the lifetime attributable cancer risk of a single head CT scan ranges from 0.08% for a neonate to practically zero for a 70-year-old, they write that “the concern about the risks from CT is related to the rapid increase in its use.” The number of CTs that Americans get yearly has increased by 95% since 1980.