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CT Scans Can Increase Cancer Risk, Says Two New Studies

December 31, 1969

Two new studies are reporting that tens of thousands of people might get cancer in the future because they were exposed to radiation when they underwent CT scans. The findings from both studies can be found in the latest edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine. This is disturbing news, considering that more people are opting to undergo this type of imaging technology, once touted as painless, safe, and able to detect diseases. In 2007, 70 million CT scans were performed.

According to one study, led by University of San Francisco researchers, 1 out of 600 men and 1 out of 270 women who undergo CT coronary angiographies when they are 40 will end up getting cancer. For patients who undergo head CT scans at the same age, one out of 11,080 men and one out of 8,100 women will suffer from cancer as a result.

The findings come from an analysis of 1,119 patients who were given 11 of the most common kinds of examinations at four facilities in California's Bay Area last year. The amount of radiation given to patients varied.

The second study, which was conducted by National Cancer Institute researchers, estimates that about 29,000 future cancers will be linked to CT scans that were performed in this country two years ago: 2,700 cases will come from CT angiographies, 4,100 cancers from chest exams, 4,000 cancer cases from head scans, and 14,000 cancers from pelvis and abdominal CT scans.

These findings will undoubtedly cause additional worry to the over 200 patients who sued Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for Los Angeles medical malpractice after it became known that patients had been exposed to high radiation levels during CT brain perfusion scans. Over 18 months, the patients were exposed to eight times more than the usual dose of radiation that is recommended for this type of noninvasive procedure.

CT brain perfusion scans are performed about 150,000 times annually in this country.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it was investigating whether patients treated at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, another Los Angeles County hospital, received CT scan-related radiation overdoses In November, officials from Glendale Adventist Medical Center, also in Los Angeles County, announced that 10 patients also received radiation overdoses when they had their CT scans. The CT scanners used in the three California hospitals to perform the procedures were made by General Electric or Toshiba.

If a CT scan is a cause of someone's cancer, the patient may have grounds for filing an Orange County, California medical malpractice complaint against the medical professional or facility that recommended the procedure. A CT manufacturer could also be held liable for designing dangerous medical device that causes cancer.

Cancer Risks and Radiation Exposure From Computed Tomographic Scans, Archives of Internal Medicine

New Focus on Dangers of CT Scans, CBS News, December 14, 2009

3rd L.A.-area hospital in radiation overdose probe, Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2009

Radiation overdoses found at second hospital, Los Angeles Times, November 21, 2009

Related Web Resource:
CT Brain Perfusion Scans Safety Investigation: Initial Notification, FDA

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