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CT Scans Emit Massive
Doses of Radiation, Promote Cancer


A British government report has called for tighter regulation of private clinics that offer full-body computed tomography (CT) scans, saying that such scans expose patients to a massive and cancer-promoting blast of radiation.

Many private clinics offer full-body CT scans to patients who want to search for early indicators of heart disease or cancer. In the United Kingdom, such scans typically cost between 500 and 2,000 ($1,000-$4,000).

The new report by the Committee on the Medical Aspects of Radiation strongly advises that private clinics end this practice, and says that the government needs to better regulate the practice.

Full-body CT scans expose patients to approximately 100 times the radiation of a standard chest X-ray. Any radiation exposure is known to increase the risk of cancer, in particular, radiation in high doses. The report says that for every 2,000 people getting a full-body CT scan twice per year, one can be expected to contract a fatal cancer.

In addition, the report notes that such scans often lead to false alarms that lead to great expense and emotional distress for patients. Minor abnormalities that are at no risk of becoming malignant that are detected by a CT scan may lead to a series of unnecessary, invasive, expensive and painful medical tests, in addition to needless anxiety and fear.

This assessment echoes the position of the British Medical Association, which has called private CT scans "a waste of money" at best, and a health danger at worst.

The report recommends that patients who are exhibiting symptoms that they want diagnosed with a CT scan should instead be referred back to their general practitioner for treatment.

In response to the report, the Department of Health announced that government ministers will consult on the issue and consider banning full-body CT scans except in cases of medical necessity.


Reference Source 136
July 8, 2008

 


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