Boom in CT Scans Alarms Docs

Radiation can unnecessarily increase patients' cancer risk
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Nov 26, 2007 4:00 PM CST
A 3-D image that was computer-generated from a series of X-rays taken by a CT seen in this handout photo released by the University of Wisconsin Medical School. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Dr. Perry...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Advances in CT scans may help doctors diagnose patients quickly effectively, but also expose them to dangerous levels of radiation, the Boston Globe reports. The number of CT scans in the US climbed from 20 million in 1995 to 63 million in 2005, but many aren't actually necessary—and pose cancer risks. Some doctors are recommending cutting back. 

A CT scan of the chest exposes a patient to radiation comparable to the lowest doses received by survivors of Hiroshima. Those most at risk are patients who undergo multiple scans, whether due to chronic kidney stones or participation in clinical drug trials. New scanners emit lower radiation doses, but doctors should switch to MRI or ultrasound wherever possible.