Receiving a positive diagnosis of cancer can be one of the most terrifying things for a person to endure. Even when the cancer is considered highly treatable, the prospects of surgery, chemo, radiation and the potential side effects that may go along with them can be daunting. Given all of that, it’s not surprising most people do what they can to lower their personal cancer risks. From eating right and exercising to avoiding exposure to radiation, there are many ways to help lower personal cancer risks. Skipping a CT scan that has been ordered by a doctor isn’t necessarily one of them though.
CT scans, or computerized tomography scans, provide doctors with a much clearer picture inside the body than many other available tests, including X-rays. CT scans can be critical for diagnosing illness and disease, but they do so by drawing on ionizing radiation. This radiation can damage tissue in the body and may increase risk of cancer. This fact has some worried that the amount of radiation involved in a CT scan and its potential to increase cancer risks.
Technically speaking, radiation exposure can cause cancer. In regard to CTs, the risks tend to hinge on the strength of the radiation dose used and the number of scans a patient is exposed to. Recent studies have shown that elevated risks of cancer associated with CT scans are very negligible, especially if overuse is not involved in the equation. When a CT scan is ordered to diagnose a serious illness or injury or is required in its treatment, experts recommend patients set aside any fears as the benefits are very likely to far outweigh any associated risks.
Patients who are asked to undergo CT scans will find very low doses of radiation are used. Even so, they are urged to find out why the scan is needed and to ask whether alternatives are available. Use of the CT scan when necessary has been deemed important, unnecessary exposure has not.