Cancer Panel Report Cites Medical Radiation Concerns

Yesterday, we wrote that an announcement made by the President’s Cancer Panel (PCP) stated that the link between environmental carcinogens and cancers are much greater than ever realized, citing NBC New York. Now, DotMed writes that the PCP pointed to the huge increase in Americans’ exposure to <"">medical radiation. The panel called for increased regulations for technicians operating medical machines that emit radiation and recommended physician knowledge of these devices’ risks be enhanced.

The PCP is a three-person panel that provides a yearly report on an array of issues concerning cancer and seeks active—versus reactive—approaches to environmental cancer risks and the threat these risks present to the pediatric demographic, said DotMed. The 200-page report was released Thursday.

The panel’s report also called for increased review of the many thousands of chemicals released by industry and in agriculture to which American residents are exposed, said DotMed, which noted that only a few such chemicals have ever undergone safety testing. Also discussed were potential adverse effects from military testing and training contaminants and cell phone and power line electromagnetic radiation.

The PCP report pointed out that medical radiation exposure increased from 15 percent in the 1980s to a whopping 48 percent today, wrote “I think [the increase] is attributed to the fact that we have found that diagnostic studies, particularly, have helped us make diagnoses and evaluations we couldn’t make before,” panel Chair LaSalle D. Leffall told DOTmed News.

While imaging has helped in the fight against cancer, said the PCP, the increased exposure experienced in recent years is worrisome. As an example, the group said that a typical “organ dose range for computed tomography (CT),” when considering multiple scans and operator administration, “is 5-100 mSv,” which is the same as the doses an “average Hiroshima bomb drop survivor who stood several thousand yards from ground zero” experienced, said DotMed.

Compounding matters, the PCP believes there is a distinct lack of information about medical radiation risks in the medical community, citing a recent survey that found most radiologists and emergency-room physicians (three-quarters) appreciably minimize CT scan radiation doses and about nine of ten emergency room doctors do know realize the scans are linked to an increased lifetime cancer risk, said DotMed. “If people get a lot of the high-dose exams, that adds to the lifetime risk of cancer induction,” said James Hevezi, chair of the ACR Medical Physics Commission, quoted DotMed.

Another issue of concern for the panel is that there is no true uniform credentialing for radiologic technologists and licensing and accreditation requirements vary significantly state-to-state, said DotMed. In Washington, D.C., licensures, certifications and regulations do not exist.

“It’s great to see the President’s Cancer Panel support the need for education and certification standards for radiologic technologists,” American Society of Radiologic Technologists’ spokeswoman Christine Lung told DOTmed. “We’d hope to see this approach mirrored by Congress through the enactment of HR 3652.” The CARE Bill is in Congress and, if passed, would mandate radiologic technologists performing Medicare-paid services meet federal certification standards such as those that exist in some states, said DotMed.

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