01 September 2004

--- How Often Do You Have CT Scans?

"Patients undergoing a full-body computed tomography (CT) scan are exposed to a radiation dose equivalent to that received by some survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, say US researchers. This exposure has been linked with a significant rise in cancer mortality and younger patients are especially at risk. While those patients referred for diagnostic CT scans by medical practitioners should see benefits that far outweigh the risks, those who self-refer may be increasing their risk of cancer unduly." [Annual CT scans boost cancer risk | New Scientist ]
Full-body CT scans are recommended only for those who have been advised by their doctors to do so because of a suspect malignant condition. But if you are one of those persons who will do this for the sheer thought of just wanting to make sure if you have cancer or not, you better think twice.

A CT scan works by rotating around the body while taking a series of cross-sectional X-ray views or "slices." These "sliced views" are in turn compiled by a computer to produce a three-dimensional portrait of the body's internal organs. The radiation dose received is often 500 times that of a conventional X-ray and nearly 100 times that of a mammogram.

So unless very necessary and advised by a physician, YOU ARE NOT ENCOURAGED to undergo full-body CT scans.
"I think the people who get these scans are worried well. They are very concerned about health but tend to be very safe, low-risk people. They think they will live longer or have a better-quality life if they get these scans, I guess. But there is no data that support they will live longer or better if they have one of these exams."" [David J. Brenner, PhD, CBSNews.com]
This is an eye-opener for both doctors and patients. It shows that the risk for diagnostic modalities like full-body CT scans and X-rays is not totally zero.

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