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What questions can I ask my doctor about cancer risks from computed tomography (CT) scans?

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A CT scans uses powerful X-rays, a type of radiation called ionizing radiation, to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Radiation can damage the DNA in your cells and raise the chance that they'll turn cancerous. But the chances of getting cancer from CT scans is very low.

You shouldn’t need to stop getting CTs if you need them. But it’s a good idea to make sure you need each one you get. Ask you doctor:

  • Why do I need this scan?
  • How will it affect my treatment?
  • What are the risks?
  • Could you diagnose me with a test that doesn’t use radiation, like an MRI or an ultrasound?
  • How will you protect the rest of my body during the CT scan?

From: Can CT Scans Lead to Cancer? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Can I avoid exposure to radiation from x-rays and gamma rays?"

FDA: "What are the Radiation Risks from CT?"

Mayo Clinic: "CT scan: Definition," "CT scan: Why it's done," "Tests and Procedures: CT Scan."

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Scan Safety: A Radiation Reality Check."

National Cancer Institute: "Computed Tomography (CT) Scans and Cancer," "Radiation."

Radiological Society of North America: "I've had many CT scans. Should I be concerned?"

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on June 27, 2017

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: "Can I avoid exposure to radiation from x-rays and gamma rays?"

FDA: "What are the Radiation Risks from CT?"

Mayo Clinic: "CT scan: Definition," "CT scan: Why it's done," "Tests and Procedures: CT Scan."

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: "Scan Safety: A Radiation Reality Check."

National Cancer Institute: "Computed Tomography (CT) Scans and Cancer," "Radiation."

Radiological Society of North America: "I've had many CT scans. Should I be concerned?"

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on June 27, 2017

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What protects me from the radiation of computed tomography (CT) scans?

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