Exposure to CT scans may be associated with a slightly increased risk of developing cancer in children and young people, a new study has found.
The study used anonymised medical records for 11 million young Australians, including 6,80,000 who were exposed to Computerised Tomography (CT) scans between 1985 and 2005.
The Australian researchers, with colleagues at Oxford University and the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France, found that for every 1,400 CT scans before the age of 20 there was one extra case of cancer over the following 10 years.
This small increase in cancer risk must be weighed against the undoubted benefits from CT scans in diagnosing and monitoring many different health conditions, researchers said.
“As an individual patient, your risk of cancer from a CT scan is very low. In the vast majority of cases the benefits of a CT scan in diagnosing a condition or guiding treatment will outweigh the risks,” said lead researcher Professor John Mathews at the University of Melbourne.