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CT cancer link warning

Thursday June 7th, 2012

Doctors should seek to reduce the use of CT brain scanning on children because of increased cancer risks later in life, according to the findings of a major study published yesterday.

Researchers linked childhood scans to a tripled risk of developing leukaemia and brain cancer.

The findings come from a study of some 180,000 people who underwent CT scanning in British hospitals over a 17 year period starting in 1985 - shortly after the introduction of the technology, which combined x-rays with computer analysis.

The detailed research included compiling measurements of the doses of radiation absorbed in the brain and bone marrow of patients.

The research, reported in The Lancet, identified some 74 people diagnosed with leukaemia and 135 with brain cancer.

The researchers say the findings suggest that for every 10,000 people who received a CT scan before the age of ten there would be one extra case of leukaemia or brain cancer in the next decade.

Researcher Dr Mark Pearce, of Newcastle University, UK, said: "The immediate benefits of CT outweigh the potential long-term risks in many settings and because of CT's diagnostic accuracy and speed of scanning, notably removing the need for anaesthesia and sedation in young patients, it will, and should, remain in widespread practice for the foreseeable future."

He added: "Further refinements to allow reduction in CT doses should be a priority, not only for the radiology community, but also for manufacturers. Alternative diagnostic procedures that do not involve ionising radiation exposure, such as ultrasound and MRI might be appropriate in some clinical settings.

"Of utmost importance is that where CT is used, it is only used where fully justified from a clinical perspective."

The Lancet June 6 2012

Tags: Cancer | Child Health | General Health | UK News

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