CT scans and radiation. Is there a risk?

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At CAPPS we urge families NOT to ask for a CT scan until they have seen a specialist.  There are two(2) good reasons for this: first, the CT scan may be unnecessary and/or the specialist may prefer an MRI or consider physical examination conclusive. Second, if the CT scan is ordered incorrectly there is a chance that the specialist may need a second CT scan.  It is ALWAYS best to wait and allow the specialist to order exactly what is necessary.

While no one can point to a single individual and say that his/her cancer was caused by medical radiation, it has been suggested in some studies that exposure to radiation levels during diagnostic CT scans may slightly increase the risk of future cancer.  Evidence for this is still controversial.

The theoretical increased risk of cancer during one’s lifetime from a single CT scan is small.

Unnecessary radiation should be avoided, but for any child the risk/benefit ratio of each CT scan must be considered with regard to the child’s specific clinical condition and concerns.

The majority of specialists will not require follow up CT scans and it is important to question this practice.  While some families may feel a sense of relief knowing that their child has been examined both externally and internally, it is important that you limit your child’s exposure to radiation.

Low-dose CT scans are available at the majority of children’s hospitals.  Ask questions.

For more information regarding radiation and the risks associated with them please read this. 

(Source: National Cancer Institute)