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Multiple CT Scans can Increase Lung Cancer Risk for Certain Patients, Study

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Digital radiography newsAccording to a new study, undergoing multiple CT scans can significantly increase the risk for lung cancer for certain patients. The study was conducted by a team from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and its results appear in the December issue of the journal Radiation Research.

The study assessed the effects of CT scans on mice with special gene modification. These mice had a lung cancer-susceptibility gene identified as Ki-ras. It is known that mutations in this gene have been associated with 30% of lung cancer in human. During the study, mice with the mutant Ki-ras gene underwent low dose helical CT scans. It was noted that mice had 43% more tumors that those who were not exposed to radiation. In addition, female mice were more affected by radiation than males.

Leading researchers, Michael T. Munley, Ph.D., associate professor of radiation oncology, and Mark S. Miller, Ph.D., professor of cancer biology, at Wake Forest Baptist, said "We believe we are the first to use an animal model in an actual clinical CT scanner to directly look at the risk of producing tumors after a diagnostic procedure. What we found is that there may be an increased risk of tumor formation from CT scans in certain individuals with cancer susceptibility."

In addition, Kenneth T. Wheeler, Ph.D, professor emeritus of radiology, a co-author in the study, noted that mice that did not express the mutant Ki-ras gene did not show increasing in tumors with exposure to CT scans. This finding means that there is limited risk associated with exposure to low dose CT scans if the patients do not have cancer susceptibility genes. However, Professor Wheeler recommends using more imaging procedures that do not involve radiation. He said "we suggest it may be more appropriate for them to be imaged using a magnetic resonance scanner (MRI) instead of a CT scanner to avoid any possible additional cancer risk. This would be the prudent thing to do."

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