Friday, June 15, 2012

CT Scans May Increase Cancer Risk in Children

A new study has found that the chance of getting brain cancer or leukemia increases when computed tomography (CT) scans are done on children. 

According to an article from The New York Times, researchers say that CT scans should only be done when absolutely necessary and with the lowest possible dose of radiation, such as when diagnosing severe head injuries.  

CT Scan Machine
Photo from pengrin™, Flickr
The new study was published in The Lancet, a British medical journal, and found that when nearly 180,000 children had CT scans, 74 cases of leukemia and 135 cases of brain cancer appeared.  

It was also found that the more scans that were performed, the higher the risk of getting either disease increased.  

Children who had five to 10 CT scans tripled the risk of getting leukemia, while children under the age of 15 who had two or three scans of the head tripled the risk of brain cancer.

CT scans take X-rays from various angles to create cross-sectional images. These scans involve a lot of radiation, and researchers say that a third of the scans performed on children are considered unnecessary and can be replaced by a safer test like ultrasounds.  

When it comes to potential life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia complications, spine injuries and chest infections, parents are urged to not refuse CT scans.  

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