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Pediatric CT Scans

Cancer incidence among children undergoing computed tomography (CT) scans

Due to the lack of empirical data on CT use and cancer, DCEG has initiated a retrospective cohort study with the University of Newcastle to evaluate the relationship between radiation exposure from CT scans conducted during childhood and adolescence and the subsequent development of cancer. We currently are identifying a cohort of 200,000 people who received CT scans as children or adolescents in the UK during 1985-2002. The cohort will be followed for cancer incidence and mortality using national records. We also are assessing trends in use of CT examinations in various parts of the UK.

In addition, two studies of CT examinations were conducted in Israel. In a descriptive study of pediatric and adolescent CT scan use during 1999-2003 in a large health maintenance organization in Israel we found that the cranium was the most frequently scanned region of the body, ranging from 78% in young children to 39% in adolescents. The highest annual CT examination rate (per 1,000) was recorded in 2001 (10.1) compared to 7.0 and 6.3 in 1999 and 2003, respectively. The lowest rate (three scans per 1,000) was found for 3-year-old children, with increasing rates with age. In the second study, we estimated that 17,686 pediatric scans were conducted annually in Israel during 1999-2003. We projected that 9.5 lifetime deaths would be associated with 1 year of pediatric CT scanning. This number represents an excess of 0.29% over the total number of patients who are eventually estimated to die from cancer in their lifetime.

For more information, contact Amy Berrington de González.