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CT scans in childhood may raise cancer risk: study

PARIS--Children exposed to multiple CT scans could be up to three times likelier to contract cancer of the blood, brain or bone marrow later in life, according to research published Thursday.

Writing in The Lancet medical journal, a team of scientists in Canada, Britain and the United States said the cancer risk, in absolute terms, appears to be small.

But they appealed for radiation doses from CT scans to be kept at a minimum and for alternatives to be used where appropriate.

The researchers claimed their study was the first to provide direct evidence of a link between exposure from CT radiation in childhood and later cancer risk.

“Of utmost importance is that where CT is used, it is only used where fully justified from a clinical perspective,” said lead author Mark Pearce of Newcastle University's Institute of Health and Society.

As a vital diagnostic technique, use of the CT scan has increased rapidly in the past 10 years, particularly in the United States, the researchers said.

“However, potential cancer risks exist due to the ionizing radiation used in CT scans, especially in children who are more radiosensitive than adults.”

Computerized tomography — commonly known as CT — is an X-ray technique that produces images of the body's internal structures in cross sections.

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