Computed Tomography and Its Carcinogenic Effects in Children and Youth in Québec

12-23-2011 | Cancérologie, Imagerie médicale

This report was prepared at the request of the Direction québécoise du cancer (DQC), which was especially interested in several issues: the cancer-related risks of diagnostic CT in children and young adults; available imaging options; and the means taken to reduce CT-related risks. The DQC asked us to focus on children and youth, given their increased sensitivity to radiation, their longer life expectancy, and the possibility that absorbed doses may be higher in these patients.

Internationally, the risk associated with diagnostic radiation has been recognized since the advent of radiology and nuclear medicine. Historically, risk control, through radiation protection and the judicious use of these technologies, has kept pace with developments in the available techniques. The advent of CT, which delivers much higher radiation doses than conventional radiography, has led to new initiatives for aligning practices with this new reality, especially for pediatric patients.

The present analysis provides an overview of the measures found in the medical literature that are designed to limit radiation-related dangers, while preserving the many benefits that these technologies offer to patients. These measures include:

• providing professional training and awareness about the issues;
• producing information to help physicians make decisions about the use of CT scans;
• developing dose-rate standards;
• developing guidelines on the indications for the different imaging techniques; and
• implementing quality-assurance measures in clinical and radiology facilities.

In this dynamic environment, these measures must be developed and supported to allow patients to take full advantage of the promising benefits of these technologies and to reduce the risk of inducing cancers that is inevitably linked to ionizing radiation.


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