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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007 Nov 15;176(10):970-3. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Radiation-induced cancer risk from annual computed tomography for patients with cystic fibrosis.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



Computed tomography (CT) is being considered as a tool for routine monitoring of lung damage in people with cystic fibrosis. Concern has been raised, however, about the associated risk of radiation-induced cancer.


To estimate the risk of radiation-induced cancer from lung CT for patients with cystic fibrosis, assuming annual monitoring starting at age 2 years.


Radiation risk models (derived primarily from the study of Japanese atomic bomb survivors) were used to estimate the excess risk of radiation-induced cancer for the organs that receive measurable doses from lung CT. Two scenarios were considered: median survival to age 36 years (approximate current median survival) and median survival to age 50 years (projected median survival by 2030).


The estimated risk of radiation-induced cancer from annual lung CT was 0.02% for males and 0.07% for females assuming median survival to age 36 years. The estimated risks increased to 0.08% for males and 0.46% for females assuming median survival increases to age 50 years. The risks are higher for females because of the risk of radiation-induced breast cancer (50% of total risk) and higher risk of thyroid cancer.


The cumulative risk of radiation-induced cancer from repeated lung CT scans for patients with cystic fibrosis is relatively small (less than 0.5%). However, routine monitoring should not be recommended until there is a demonstrated benefit that will outweigh these risks.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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