A new study shows that CT scans may place children at an increase risk of developing leukemia and head and neck cancer. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal, the study showed that children and teens who received two to three CT scans – or computed tomography scans – of the head were three times as likely to develop brain cancer as those in the general population. Those children who had received five to ten CT scans of the head were three times as likely to contract leukemia. The study, which was a collaboration of researchers at institutions in five countries and jointly funded by the U.K. Department of Health and the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., included 176,587 children. The study was published earlier this month in the journal Lancet.
The report indicated that an increased cancer risk was present with even one CT scan and that the risk increased with each additional scan. The study’s authors emphasized, however, that the overall likelihood of contracting cancers still remained relatively and that the immediate benefits of a CT scan often outweigh any potential risks of developing cancer.
CT scans are used to detect a variety of medical problems, including head injuries such as concussions, by combing a sequence of X-rays from different angles to offer a composite view of bone and soft tissue. CT scans, however, use significantly more radiation than x-rays.
Some patient advocacy groups are already pushing to stop the overuse of CT scans in children. For example, the Image Gently initiative, which was launched in August 2009 and is led by a coalition of health-care organizations dedicated to improving the medical standards. Conversely, some doctors and medical experts are cautioning parents not to jump to any conclusions and advising them to consider the costs and benefits of CT scans, as with any medical procedure.
In this article, David Brenner, a Columbia University Medical Center researcher who has extensively studied the use safety of CT scans, suggests that parents request more information from their children’s doctors. “It’s absolutely fair if your physician suggests that you or your child has a CT scan to ask that physician, ‘Why?’ Ask, ‘Are there good medical reasons why the CT scan is justified?’” he says.
The Chicago medical malpractice law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC is committed to protecting the victims of substandard medical care. If you or your child has received substandard medical care or was urged to undergo an unnecessary or risky procedure, do not hesitate to contact the skilled Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Ankin Law Offices at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible medical malpractice claim.