Radiation from Cardiac Scans May Increase Risk of Cancer

Younger women are at greatest lifetime risk, study finds

TUESDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- Computed tomography coronary angiography (CTCA) scans for coronary artery disease may impart an increased lifetime risk of cancer, according to a report published in the July 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Andrew Einstein, M.D., Ph.D., of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues developed Monte Carlo simulations to estimate radiation doses delivered to individual organs from single 64-slice CTCA scans. From that, they calculated the associated lifetime attributable risk of cancer, using data from the National Academies' Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation 7th Report.

The lifetime attributable risk of cancer associated with a single scan was consistently higher for women than for men, and diminished with age. For instance, the risk attributable to a single, standard heart scan was 0.70 percent for 20-year-old females, and about 0.15 percent for males; the risk in women dropped to 0.35 at age 40, and 0.22 at age 60. Breast and lung cancer accounted for about 80 percent of the risk.

"The results of this study suggest that CTCA should be used particularly cautiously in the evaluation of young individuals, especially women, for whom alternative diagnostic modalities that do not involve the use of ionizing radiation should be considered," the authors conclude.

The authors of this study report serving as consultants and receiving support from GE Healthcare, Philips Medical Systems and the pharmaceutical industry.

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