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Acta Radiol. 2011 Sep 1;52(7):767-73. doi: 10.1258/ar.2011.100496. Epub 2011 Jul 8.

Cancer induction caused by radiation due to computed tomography: a critical note.

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Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Radiology, Leiden, The Netherlands.


The considerable rise of computed tomography (CT) procedures over the past few decades has urged responsible authorities and researchers to evaluate the risk of carcinogenesis in the population in relation to the radiation dose delivered to the patient. A single patient undergoing CT may receive a radiation equivalent dose that varies between about 2 mSv (head ) to about 20 mSv (CT-based coronary angiography). Whereas the latter represents a substantial dose delivered to one patient it is, however, population-wise far below the area of the so-called low doses, i.e. 50 mSv in children and 100 mSv in adults. While at effective doses above 50 mSv the risk of cancer induction increases linearly with dose, this dose-response relation has not been demonstrated at doses below 50 mSv. Below 50 mSv no convincing epidemiological evidence for cancer risk exists. Calculations on this risk are based on scientifically questionable, if not invalid, extrapolations of data from higher doses. However, the failure to demonstrate that a risk of cancer exists does not mean that there is no risk. This paper summarizes the data mentioned in various articles from recent literature discussing cancer risks due to CT and puts the results of these studies in perspective of current scientific knowledge in the field of radiation protection. For this we follow the lead of the ICRP and UNSCEAR. Furthermore, we review the strategies and efforts of various national and international bodies and manufacturers of CT apparatus to lower the radiation dose to the patient.

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