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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

CT Scans, Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?

A computer tomography (CT) scan is a medical imaging technology that uses computer software and a series of X-ray views to produce detailed images of the inside of your body.  It provides much more information than regular X-rays. CT scans are particularly useful for patients who have suffered internal injuries from car accidents and trauma.  However, in most cases, doctors (and worse, physician assistants) are ordering these scans for minor bicycle and sporting accidents.   As you lie on a bed and move through a ring-shaped CT scan machine, your body is bombarded by a series of X-ray beams with dangerously high levels of radiation.  The radiation from a CT scan is equivalent to 500 or more chest X-rays, and a full body CT scan is equivalent to 900 X-rays.  Studies show that this radiation overload can increase your risk of cancer. An occasional CT scan is useful diagnostically, but you should avoid this procedure unless your life depends on it.

So if CT scans are so dangerous, why do doctors routinely order them?  I am sure that scans likely bring a sizable income to hospitals and medical facilities. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, an Osteopathic Physician and prominent author and speaker, many CT scans are unnecessary but are still administered because:
·         Doctors don’t want to be sued for malpractice if they miss something.
·         Some patients ask their doctors for unnecessary scans because they are convinced of the benefits of advanced diagnostic tools. The tools they hear about from advertisements don’t even disclose the risks of radiation.
·         Some doctors want to screen worried and at-risk patients – like former smokers for lung cancer – “just to be safe.”
·         Doctors seek to earn back their investment on the technology.
·         Commercially advertised whole-body CT scans want to “find everything wrong with you” and target patients who can afford the procedure.

CT scans are also routinely used to monitor the success of cancer treatments and to aid with radiation therapy placement.  For those battling cancer, this is a major issue.  No one wants to die of cancer, but certainly the “cure” should not be part of the battle.  A new study published in the journal Cancer explains that these CT scans actually cause secondary cancers.  According to John Boone, coauthor of the study, CT expert  and professor in the University of California (UC) Davis Department of Radiology,   "This is the first study that I am aware of that shows that diagnostic CT scans cause cancer with statistical significance.  The organizations that recommend these protocols need to reevaluate this aggressive use of CT and maybe opt for MRI or ultrasound."  Sounds like good medicine to me.   

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Elyn Jacobs

Elyn Jacobs is President of Elyn Jacobs Consulting, Inc. and a breast cancer survivor.  She helps women diagnosed with cancer to navigate the process of treatment and care, and she educates about how to prevent recurrence and new cancers.  She is passionate about helping others get past their cancer and into a cancer-free life.

1 comment:

  1. I recently visit your site,good information CT scan is one of the best ways of looking at soft tissues such as the heart and lungs.Again return your site.
    Full Body CT scan


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