Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of leukaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study

Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University, Sir James Spence Institute, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
The Lancet (Impact Factor: 45.22). 06/2012; 380(9840):499-505. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60815-0
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although CT scans are very useful clinically, potential cancer risks exist from associated ionising radiation, in particular for children who are more radiosensitive than adults. We aimed to assess the excess risk of leukaemia and brain tumours after CT scans in a cohort of children and young adults.
In our retrospective cohort study, we included patients without previous cancer diagnoses who were first examined with CT in National Health Service (NHS) centres in England, Wales, or Scotland (Great Britain) between 1985 and 2002, when they were younger than 22 years of age. We obtained data for cancer incidence, mortality, and loss to follow-up from the NHS Central Registry from Jan 1, 1985, to Dec 31, 2008. We estimated absorbed brain and red bone marrow doses per CT scan in mGy and assessed excess incidence of leukaemia and brain tumours cancer with Poisson relative risk models. To avoid inclusion of CT scans related to cancer diagnosis, follow-up for leukaemia began 2 years after the first CT and for brain tumours 5 years after the first CT.
During follow-up, 74 of 178,604 patients were diagnosed with leukaemia and 135 of 176,587 patients were diagnosed with brain tumours. We noted a positive association between radiation dose from CT scans and leukaemia (excess relative risk [ERR] per mGy 0·036, 95% CI 0·005-0·120; p=0·0097) and brain tumours (0·023, 0·010-0·049; p<0·0001). Compared with patients who received a dose of less than 5 mGy, the relative risk of leukaemia for patients who received a cumulative dose of at least 30 mGy (mean dose 51·13 mGy) was 3·18 (95% CI 1·46-6·94) and the relative risk of brain cancer for patients who received a cumulative dose of 50-74 mGy (mean dose 60·42 mGy) was 2·82 (1·33-6·03).
Use of CT scans in children to deliver cumulative doses of about 50 mGy might almost triple the risk of leukaemia and doses of about 60 mGy might triple the risk of brain cancer. Because these cancers are relatively rare, the cumulative absolute risks are small: in the 10 years after the first scan for patients younger than 10 years, one excess case of leukaemia and one excess case of brain tumour per 10,000 head CT scans is estimated to occur. Nevertheless, although clinical benefits should outweigh the small absolute risks, radiation doses from CT scans ought to be kept as low as possible and alternative procedures, which do not involve ionising radiation, should be considered if appropriate.
US National Cancer Institute and UK Department of Health.

Download full-text


Available from: Mark P Little, Jun 29, 2015
1 Follower
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The IEC has introduced a practical approach to overcome shortcomings of the CTDI100 for measurements on wide beams employed for cone beam (CBCT) scans. This study evaluated the efficiency of this approach (CTDIIEC) for different arrangements using Monte Carlo simulation techniques, and compared CTDIIEC to the efficiency of CTDI100 for CBCT. Monte Carlo EGSnrc/BEAMnrc and EGSnrc/DOSXYZnrc codes were used to simulate the kV imaging system mounted on a Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator. The Monte Carlo model was benchmarked against experimental measurements and good agreement shown. Standard PMMA head and body phantoms with lengths 150, 600, and 900 mm were simulated. Beam widths studied ranged from 20-300 mm, and four scanning protocols using two acquisition modes were utilized. The efficiency values were calculated at the centre (εc) and periphery (εp) of the phantoms and for the weighted CTDI (εw). The efficiency values for CTDI100 were approximately constant for beam widths 20-40 mm, where εc(CTDI100), εp(CTDI100), and εw(CTDI100) were 74.7 ± 0.6%, 84.6 ± 0.3%, and 80.9 ± 0.4%, for the head phantom and 59.7 ± 0.3%, 82.1 ± 0.3%, and 74.9 ± 0.3%, for the body phantom, respectively. When beam width increased beyond 40 mm, ε(CTDI100) values fell steadily reaching ~30% at a beam width of 300 mm. In contrast, the efficiency of the CTDIIEC was approximately constant over all beam widths, demonstrating its suitability for assessment of CBCT. εc(CTDIIEC), εp(CTDIIEC), and εw(CTDIIEC) were 76.1 ± 0.9%, 85.9 ± 1.0%, and 82.2 ± 0.9% for the head phantom and 60.6 ± 0.7%, 82.8 ± 0.8%, and 75.8 ± 0.7%, for the body phantom, respectively, within 2% of ε(CTDI100) values for narrower beam widths. CTDI100,w and CTDIIEC,w underestimate CTDI∞,w by ~55% and ~18% for the head phantom and by ~56% and ~24% for the body phantom, respectively, using a clinical beam width 198 mm. The CTDIIEC approach addresses the dependency of efficiency on beam width successfully and correction factors have been derived to allow calculation of CTDI∞.
    Physics in Medicine and Biology 10/2014; 59(21):6307-6326. DOI:10.1088/0031-9155/59/21/6307 · 2.92 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Several radiation-related professional societies have concluded that carcinogenic risks associated with doses below 50-100 mSv are either too small to be detected, or are nonexistent. This is especially important in the context of doses from medical imaging. Radiation exposure to the public from medical imaging procedures is rising around the world, primarily due to increased utilization of computed tomography. Professional societies and advisory bodies consistently recommend against multiplying small doses by large populations to predict excess radiation-induced cancers, in large part because of the potential for sensational claims of health impacts which do not adequately take the associated uncertainties into account. Nonetheless, numerous articles have predicted thousands of future cancers as a result of CT scanning, and this has generated considerable concern among patients and parents. In addition, some authors claim that we now have direct epidemiological evidence of carcinogenic risks from medical imaging. This paper critically examines such claims, and concludes that the evidence cited does not provide direct evidence of low-dose carcinogenicity. These claims themselves have adverse public health impacts by frightening the public away from medically justified exams. It is time for the medical and scientific communities to be more assertive in responding to sensational claims of health risks.
    Dose-Response 10/2014; 1(-1). DOI:10.2203/dose-response.14-030.Ulsh · 1.23 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Recent findings related to childhood leukaemia incidence near nuclear installations have raised questions which can be answered neither by current knowledge on radiation risk nor by other established risk factors. In 2012, a workshop was organised on this topic with two objectives: (a) review of results and discussion of methodological limitations of studies near nuclear installations; (b) identification of directions for future research into the causes and pathogenesis of childhood leukaemia. The workshop gathered 42 participants from different disciplines, extending widely outside of the radiation protection field. Regarding the proximity of nuclear installations, the need for continuous surveillance of childhood leukaemia incidence was highlighted, including a better characterisation of the local population. The creation of collaborative working groups was recommended for consistency in methodologies and the possibility of combining data for future analyses. Regarding the causes of childhood leukaemia, major fields of research were discussed (environmental risk factors, genetics, infections, immunity, stem cells, experimental research). The need for multidisciplinary collaboration in developing research activities was underlined, including the prevalence of potential predisposition markers and investigating further the infectious aetiology hypothesis. Animal studies and genetic/epigenetic approaches appear of great interest. Routes for future research were pointed out.
    Journal of Radiological Protection 06/2014; 34(3):R53. DOI:10.1088/0952-4746/34/3/R53 · 1.32 Impact Factor