Some new studies have revealed that the risk of cancer linked with some popular CT scans is much greater than previously estimated. The findings are now calling for added caution against overuse of CT scans as well as other medical procedures that require the use of radiation.
The studies have also managed to add some support to the new breast cancer screening guidelines which say that women should push the age of starting mammograms from 40 to 50. Mammograms use radiation as well, albeit in smaller doses.
CT scans have long been used to detect injuries and tumors, and their use has more than tripled in the US over the past 2 decades. Although people have long been aware that these scans are linked to a risk of developing cancer, the exact nature was not known.
"CT has become so quick that we are using it so commonly, and we have lowered our threshold for using it -- meaning we use it for patients who really are unlikely to have any underlying disease. Although it's a fabulous diagnostic tool, we have lowered it to the point where there may be no benefit in some patients", said Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, one of the study's lead authors.
The studies, two in all, were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on Monday.
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