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Childhood CT Scans Raise Cancer Risk

Risk Is Small, but Study Is First Direct Evidence of Link, Researcher Says

Risk to Individual Children Very Small continued...

"New CT scanners all now have dose-reduction options, and there is far more awareness among practitioners about the need to justify and optimize CT doses," he writes.

Einstein tells WebMD that parents should not be overly alarmed by the new study, but they should also not be afraid to ask questions if a CT scan is recommended for their child.

"We certainly don't want parents to avoid scans when they are necessary," he says. "If a child has abdominal pain and there is a concern about appendicitis or if there is head trauma and there is concern about bleeding in the brain, a CT scan can save a child's life."

Still Room for Improvement, Expert Says

He says while efforts to increase awareness about unnecessary or inappropriate pediatric CT scans have had an impact, there is still room for improvement.

Interventional radiologist Christopher Cassady, MD, of Texas Children's Hospital, says organized efforts to avoid medically unnecessary pediatric CT scans have made a big difference in clinical practice.

Cassady chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics section on radiology.

The "Image Gently" campaign sponsored by the Alliance for Radiation Safety in Pediatric Imaging is leading efforts to raise awareness about the issue.

Cassady recommends that parents visit the group's web site to educate themselves about the issue so that they can become advocates for their children when CT scans are recommended.

"This study reinforces the concept that we need to be as cautious as possible whenever we are using medical radiation, especially in children," he says.

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