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Cancer from CT Screenings?

A new study finds that radiation from the commonly perform CT scan are higher than generally thought, raising concerns about increased risk for cancer.

Scientist with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found significant variation in the radiation doses for the same type of computed tomography procedures within institutions and across institutions, said lead investigator Rebecca Smith-Bindman, MD, a professor of radiology at UCSF. The results highlight the need for greater standardization because this is a medical safety issue."

Compared to other imaging procedures, the median effective dose delivered through a single CT scan was as high as 74 mammograms or 442 chest x-rays, according to Smith-Bindman.

The researchers identified three key practices necessary to improve the safety of CT procedures and the associated radiation doses:

  • Reduction of unnecessary studies and studies thought unlikely to influence clinical decisions.
  • Standardization and utilization of low-dose and lower-dose protocols for every CT scanner.
  • Standardization of radiation doses across patients and facilities through federal legislation and FDA oversight stipulating how CTs are to be safely performed.

    Computed tomography imaging, known as CT, is a diagnostic procedure that uses special x-ray equipment to obtain cross-sectional pictures of the body that provide detailed images of organs, bones, and other tissues. CT is associated with higher radiation exposure than conventional x-rays, yet radiation dosages that patients receive from the newer CT scanners have gone largely unregulated, according to Smith-Bindman, who also is a UCSF professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.

    CBS News' Dr. Jon LaPook will more on this new development on tonight's CBS Evening News, at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT.

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