Q: How much do imaging tests expose individuals to radiation, and does this extra radiation increase a person’s risk of cancer?
Actually, not much radiation is received for routine X-rays. However, a higher dose may be produced by more invasive examinations, such as a CT scan. State of the art CT scanners can generate low levels of radiation while producing high quality diagnostic studies, and the scanners record the total radiation dose delivered for each patient’s examination.
Research has estimated that radiation exposure from the average diagnostic X-ray increases the risk of cancer very slightly. Because radiation is cumulative over one’s lifetime and ionizing radiation certainly is a contributing factor, imaging tests should only be performed for good reason. In many cases, other imaging tests which do not utilize radiation such as MRI and ultrasound may be recommended. For more information regarding this subject, visit www.cancer.org
W. John Bayard, MD