CT Scan Studies Point to Higher Cancer Risks

Concern over <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_medical_devices">CT scans and their possible link to cancer continues to grow. Two newly published studies are now suggesting that the radiation dose from even one CT scan is more dangerous than previously believed.

According to The Wall Street Journal, both studies were just published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine”. The first, which looked at more than 1,000 adult patients at four hospitals, projected that the dose of radiation received in a single heart CT scan at age 40 would later result in cancer in 1 in 270 women and 1 in 600 men. For those receiving a head CT scan, 1 in 8,100 women and 1 in 11,080 men would likely develop cancer from the radiation, the study said.

The study also found that radiation doses received in a single CT scan varied greatly among the hospitals, with some patients receiving only one-tenth the radiation that others got.

The second study, which analyzed information from several databases, estimated that 29,000 future cancers could be related to CT scans received in 2007, The Wall Street Journal said. The cancer risk was greatest for younger patients, and the study projected that the greatest number of cancers would occur the abdomen and pelvis.

CT scans are extremely popular as a diagnostic tool. According to the Journal, use of the scans has tripled in the U.S. since the early 1990s to more than 70 million in 2007. Though there have always been concerns regarding the cancer risks associated with radiation from CT scans, but it hasn’t been clear how high those risks actually are.

The Journal said the concerns are greatest when CT scans are used as a screening tool, and a healthy person is exposed to radiation. The lead researcher on one of the studies told the Journal that benefits of CT scans should outweigh the risks if the scan is justified.

Another concern regarding CT scans are radiation overdoses, which the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has recently been investigating. The FDA probe was launched in October, after Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles confirmed that 206 patients mistakenly received eight times the regular dose of radiation during CT brain scans,. The machine at Cedars-Sinai had been set at the higher level since February 2008, but the mistake had not been detected for 18 months. According to the Medical Center, the overdoses were discovered in August, when a patient reported hair loss.

Just last week, the FDA released interim results of its investigation. In addition to the cases at Cedars-Sinai, the agency identified at least 50 additional patients who were exposed to excess radiation of up to eight times the expected level during their CT brain scans. According to an Associated Press report, those incidents occurred at Glendale Adventist Medical Center and Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California. Some reports have also been received from an unnamed Huntsville, Alabama hospital, the Associated Press said.

To date, all of the radiation overdose cases involve more than one manufacturer of CT scanners. The FDA has not yet determined if the overdoses were the result of human error or some sort of equipment problem.

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