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Majority of parents don’t know lifetime CT scan cancer risks

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 29, 2013

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Most parents whose children visit the emergency department for head injuries are unaware of the increased lifetime risk of malignancy linked to the radiation exposure of computed tomography scans, said a study posted online July 8 in Pediatrics.

Of the 742 parents surveyed, 47% knew about the cancer risks of CT scans, which expose patients to between 60 and 80 times more radiation than an x-ray. The Food and Drug Administration says an adult’s lifetime risk of developing a CT-related cancer is 1 in 2,000.

After learning about the potential hazards of CT scans, 21% of parents said they were less willing to have their children get physician-recommended imaging studies, and 6% said they would decline the scans for their children. Most parents were under the impression that such scans exposed their children to similar levels of radiation as x-rays. Nine in 10 parents said they wanted to be informed of the malignancy risks linked to CT scans, said the study (link).

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