CT radiation exposure increases brain cancer risk in children

By Kate Madden Yee, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

December 12, 2022 — Radiation exposure from CT imaging increases brain cancer risk in children by up to fivefold, depending on the level of exposure, according to research published December 6 in the Lancet Oncology.

The findings suggest that it’s crucial to track children’s radiation exposure from CT, wrote a team led by Prof. Michael Hauptmann, PhD, of Brandenburg Medical School in Neuruppin, Germany.

The investigators calculated “excess relative risk” of brain cancer per 100 mGy of cumulative brain radiation dose, reconstructing organ doses using historical machine settings and a thorough sample of CT images. Primary outcome for the study was first reported brain cancer five years after an individual had a first CT exam.

During median follow-up of 5.6 years, 165 brain cancers were diagnosed. Mean cumulative radiation dose was 47.4 mGy among all study participants and 76 mGy among those diagnosed with brain cancer. The authors found a significant relationship between dose and brain cancer, with an excess relative risk per 100 mGy of 1.27 (with 1 as reference).

The study underscores the need for careful consideration when it comes to CT imaging in a pediatric population, according to Hauptmann and colleagues.

“[Our findings] emphasize the need to adhere to the basic radiological protection principles in medicine namely justification (procedures are appropriate and comply with guidelines) and optimization (doses are as low as reasonably achievable),” they concluded.


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