Risk in children could be reduced by 62 percent, UC Davis-led study finds.
A study examining trends in X-ray computed tomography (CT) use in children in the United States has found that reducing unnecessary scans and lowering the doses for the highest-dose scans could lower the overall lifetime risk of future imaging-related cancers by 62 percent. The research by a UC Davis Health System scientist is published online today (June 10) in JAMA Pediatrics. It is accompanied by a journal editorial.
The 4 million CT scans of the most commonly imaged organs conducted in children each year could result in approximately 4,870 future cancers, the study found. Reducing the highest 25 percent of radiation doses could prevent 2,090 — or 43 percent — of these future cancers. By also eliminating unnecessary imaging, 3,020 — or 62 percent — of cancers could be prevented, said Diana Miglioretti, lead study author and Dean’s Professor in Biostatistics in the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis Health System.
“There are potential harms from CT, meaning that there is a cancer risk, albeit very small in individual children, so it’s important to reduce this risk in two ways,” said Miglioretti, who is a member of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The first is to only do a CT when it’s medically necessary, and use alternative imaging when possible. The second is to dose CT appropriately for children.”