CT scans could result in increased chances of childhood cancer; Research

CT scan of child

Researchers have found that too many Computerized Tomography (CT) scans could increase the chances of childhood cancer, i.e. brain cancer and leukemia, by three times.

This research has been done by researchers from The Newcastle University and has been published online in the June 7 issue of the journal The Lancet.

[hana-code-insert name=’StumbleUpon’ /][hana-code-insert name=’Reddit’ /]In CT scan, an X-ray tube rotates around the patient’s body to get detailed images of the body parts of the body. It is beneficial in detection of body as it removes the need for anesthesia and sedation.

Scientists in this research have examined the NHS medical records of about 180,000 young patients in the age range of fewer than 21 from 1985 to 2002. As cancer by radiation takes time to develop, so the researchers examined data on cancer cases and mortality up until 2009.

Scientists have found that there is one more case of leukemia and one more case of brain tumor among 10,000 CT head scans of children under ten years of age.

Researchers have emphasized that the scans have more advantages than the disadvantages but these must be done when it is necessary.

Dr Mark Pearce, an epidemiologist from Newcastle University who led the study, said: “We found significant increases in the risk of leukaemia and brain tumours, following CT in childhood and young adulthood.

“The immediate benefits of CT outweigh the risks in many settings.

“Doses have come down dramatically over time – but we need to do more to reduce them. This should be a priority for the clinical community and manufacturers.”

The interpretation of the abstract is as follows;

Use of CT scans in children to deliver cumulative doses of about 50 mGy might almost triple the risk of leukaemia and doses of about 60 mGy might triple the risk of brain cancer. Because these cancers are relatively rare, the cumulative absolute risks are small: in the 10 years after the first scan for patients younger than 10 years, one excess case of leukaemia and one excess case of brain tumour per 10 000 head CT scans is estimated to occur. Nevertheless, although clinical benefits should outweigh the small absolute risks, radiation doses from CT scans ought to be kept as low as possible and alternative procedures, which do not involve ionising radiation, should be considered if appropriate.

Brain cancer and leukemia are rare forms of diseases.

Via: BBC Source: The Newcastle University


Mark S Pearce, Jane A Salotti, Mark P Little, Kieran McHugh, Choonsik Lee, Kwang Pyo Kim, Nicola L Howe, Cecile M Ronckers, Preetha Rajaraman, Alan W Craft, Louise Parker, Amy Berrington de González, (2012). Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of leukaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study. The Lancet, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60815-0


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