CT scans 'can triple the risk of children getting leukaemia'
A study by the University of Newcastle has found that CT scans can triple the risk of children developing brain cancer and leukemia.
Sir Alan Craft, former RCPCH President, is one of the report authors. Dr Mark Pearce, who led the study, said while the immediate benefits from CT scans usually outweigh the long-term risks, he said reducing radiation doses used in scans should be a priority. He did state that while CT scans tripled the relative risk of childhood cancers, the absolute risk of developing them was still small.
The results were based on 180,000 children who had scans in Britain between 1985 and 2002.
Dr Hilary Cass, President of the RCPCH said:
'We have to take very seriously the link between repeated CT scans and increased risk of leukaemia and brain tumours amongst children and young people. But with both tumours rare - the absolute risk remains low.
'CT scans can save lives and should certainly be used where the benefits outweigh the risks - for example, where there is major head injury or other life-threatening illness. They provide accurate, fast diagnosis, without the need for anaesthesia and sedation in young patients.
'We should also remember that in UK we already have relatively low levels of CT scanning compared to other countries due to tighter regulations.
'This research further confirms the need to keep doses as low as possible and only scan when absolutely necessary.'
BBC News article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18342867
Newcastle University's press release: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/radiation-exposure-from-ct-scans-in-childhood-could-triple-the-risk-of-leukaemia-and-brain-cancer
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