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CT radiation and cancer risk

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It has been known for decades that radiation exposure increases cancer risk. Most of the evidence comes from analysis of atomic bomb survivors. Almost all data I can find is based on the same data. Basically, 20% of Americans will doe of cancer in general (400 in 2000). Being exposed to 10 milli-Sievert (mSv) of radiation increases risk by 0.05%, or 1 additional cancer in 2000. A CT scan is between 2-10 mSv of radiation. Natural occurring radiation from space and ground based radiation like Radon, is 2 mSV of radiation per year. The link between CT radiation and cancer has been known for some time, and modern machines and techniques are able to reduce the amount of radiation per scan, as compared to the amount when the literature was written. Cancer risk does still exist, and you should have a conversation with your doctor about the possible risks AND benefits of doing CT. As well as if another type of test like ultrasound or MRI would be an appropriate alternative.
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Text Comments (21)
bathsheba (1 day ago)
Doctors defend ct scans because they have little else to offer.  There is significant risk however and the radiation is cumulative. They could care less because they won't be around when you get that cancer diagnosis. You the patient must be the gatekeeper.
Elle G (3 months ago)
I had two CT scans one for my brain and another to determine if I broke any facial bones back to back. I'm 19 yrs of age. I'm I going to get cancer now? I was unware of any risks
jonah desaulniers (2 months ago)
Hi elle About 4 months ago i had a cta of my head This means i had two ct scans at adult doses back to back and one with the use of radioactive contrast and a scan length of over 20 seconds. This also means my test was one in the highest end of the dose range for ct scans. I am 19 as well I literally freaked out and stopped life for a month. Completely convinced i was going to die from brain cancer. In fact, a month after i noticed my right pupil was larger than the other, which is most likely a benign condition but could also have more insidious pathologies. Then i dropped all the pieces on the fucking floor and movedon. We all have to die eventually but im 100% not going to live my life contemplating my risk of brain cancer in the next 10 years. ITS DEPRESSING ITS HARD IT FUCKING DRAINS you Shit if it happens im going base jumping. If not i will have an extremely rich life that i cant forget to be grateful for becasue i know disease was a possiblity. on gang
Roza a (4 months ago)
I feel very emotional right now Basically I have had 2 cT scans because of trouble with my ear Now I had my last cT scan in November I noticed yesterday a lump a very hard lump on the back of my head it doesn’t hurt but I have had quite extreme headaches Do you think the lump is cancer?
Angel Osorio (16 days ago)
Roza a get a CT scan to check
Lady UnPlugged (4 months ago)
Dr. Eric Berg "Having just one CT scan is the equivelent to being exposed to 200 chest x-rays or 1500 dental x-rays. Ionized radiation causes damage to DNA. FDA says that up to and probably more than 30 to 50% of ct scans are determined to be unnecessary"
Lady UnPlugged (4 months ago)
Your percentages of potential risks are wayy off. You have no idea what u are telling people. You like many doctors claim there are little risk when the risk is quite high and there have been studies to prove it. Dr.John Douillard; "There have been over 72 million ct scans done every year in America and many experts believe they are responsible for 29,000 cancers. In a major study in 2013 by the British Journal of medicine they followed one million people from birth to young adulthood. They found that the people who had the most ct scans had a 24% increased risk of developing cancer compared to those who had fewer ct scans. Younger patients have a 35% risk of developing cancer within the following 4 years after exposure. 25% risk 5 to 9 years after and 14% risk 10 to 14 years after exposure. The study also concluded that 44% of those ct scans were determined to be unnecessary. Most doctors prescribe ct scans out of fear of a law suit." He also states that most ER doctors claim there are little to no risks of x rays and ct scans. He also mentions that ct scans damage DNA. U are supposed to inform people of the risks and give full disclosure not partial disclosure.
Dr. Greg Castello (3 months ago)
My information is based on multiple published studies. I am not advocating for people to have CT scans, just the opposite. That said, in your reply you reported "Younger patients have a 35% risk of developing cancer within the following 4 years after exposure" Read that again, 1 in 3 younger patients that had a CT will develop cancer within 4 years of a CT. That is an impossible claim. You did mention that many CTs are done as a part of defensive medicine. That is absolutely true.
H B (4 months ago)
Does 21 msv harmful cause cancer ??
H B (4 months ago)
Dear sir, This is important please answer me. I recently did CT abdominal + pelvis with and Without contrast. As per doctor he used 1413 Mgy-cm Radiation to me. Means how much Msv Radiation i received exactly? Please help me to get answer 😢 Thanks !!!
WarpedTrekker (4 months ago)
I've now had 2 DVT/PE events in my lifetime at 46yo. Had at least 4 Chest CT scans, a couple X-Rays, and now an abdomen CT scan to rule out something going on with my abdomen. Also had two Contrast Heart threadmill tests. Several of these scans happened in the last few months. Is there more risk to have them back to back like this? And why can't radiation tech's give people the specific amount of radiation being exposed to, so I can keep it in my records? Techs or someone at the facility should know what the machine is set to for a particular test, and what dosage it will emit.
Dr. Greg Castello (4 months ago)
The radiology director should be able to give you the specifics of the machine used. Each machine and how it is set up and the type of scan has different radiation doses, so its not an easy question.
kchilz32 (7 months ago)
I've had a total of CT scans since 2007 I'm 36 years old. Will I be ok? Im upset because alot of doctors don't tell you the risk. 2 where for chest and 2 for abdomen.
Jason B (1 month ago)
What going to kill you is worrying about it. Quir stressin
H B (4 months ago)
kchilz32 I am also worried about my abdominal CT scan.
Muffhands Hands (5 months ago)
did u watch the video?
I Server (7 months ago)
i had a low dose ct of the chest without contrast in december. fast foward to march i had a cta angiography with contrast(heart scan( in March, how dangerous are these levels in this time frame? should i be concerned
Dexter (9 months ago)
How about x-ray?
Savage (4 months ago)
CT scan is like 100 x-rays
Jeremiah Roark (9 months ago)
Wow great info thank you Dr Castello!
David Varner (9 months ago)
Great info, glad you broke down the details

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