Having a CT – or CAT – scan puts patients at far greater risk of developing cancer than previously thought, scientists claim.
The radiation generated by the scans – an increasingly popular diagnostic tool – may trigger the disease in as many as one in 80 patients.
This is far higher than the often used figure of one in 1,000 – with women at particular risk as they are more sensitive to the effects of radiation.
Researchers now believe the dose of radiation delivered by a CT scan can vary wildly according to where on the body it is used.
In some cases, they suggest, a single scan can be the equivalent of 442 chest X-rays.
Although the scans – CT stands for computed tomography – can be lifesaving in detecting disease or brain damage, the new U.S. study will heighten fears the ‘worried well’ paying for them privately could be suffering unnecessary harm.
If the American findings were applied to the UK, it could mean CT procedures are causing thousands more cancer cases than previously thought.
Unlike an MRI scan – which uses magnetic fields and radio waves and has no known harmful effects – a CT scan generates ionising radiation so each dose causes a slight increase in the lifetime risk of cancer.
The scans allow doctors to build detailed 3D images of internal organs, blood vessels, bones or tumours. …