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CT scans in childhood may increase cancer risk

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

While anyone could benefit from regular blood tests that can help detect cancer markers, people who underwent CT scans at a young age may want to get screened for cancer often. According to a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia, individuals who underwent CT scans before the age of 20 may have a slightly increased risk of developing cancer, compared to those who did not get CT scans at a young age.

Despite these findings, the researchers stress that CT scans are an important part of medicine. People should not avoid getting them if a doctor recommends it, since they can detect important medical information.

Still get CTs, but be cautious
The scientists explained how individuals and the medical community should approach these findings.

"CT scans were very useful in providing detailed 3-D pictures to diagnose or exclude disease in internal organs and in most cases, the benefits of having a scan clearly outweigh the risk of a later cancer. Nevertheless, our new findings will remind doctors to order CT scans only when there is a definite medical reason, and to insist that CT scans use the lowest possible X-ray dose," said researcher John Matthews, Ph.D.

The researcher added that, during their study, they discovered that the risk of cancer increased along with the number of CT scans a person received at a young age. This is why people who underwent several CT scans as a child and adolescent should consider getting blood tests and other lab tests to make sure that they do not have cancer.

Other risk factors
While this study pointed to something that may slightly increase a person's risk of cancer, there are many other things that can dramatically heighten a person's risk of developing this disease. For example, the National Cancer Institute explains that smoking cigarettes and drinking excess amounts of alcohol regularly can increase the risk of cancer.

While these are two things that can easily be avoided, some other cancer risk factors - such as growing older and a family history of the disease - are impossible to change. This is why all people need to keep themselves healthy, and get screened for cancer regularly - even if they have never smoked cigarettes and only drink in moderation.

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