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A 37-year-old member asked:

I've had a vcug, cat scan and chest/back/spine x-rays. can the radiation from tests cause cancer?

3 doctor answers9 doctors weighed in
Dr. Thomas Namey
Rheumatology 49 years experience
All radiation: It is dose related and dependent on whether it is ionizing (alpha or beta rays), or non-ionizing (gamma and x-rays). Very slight increases in cancer occur in people with many x-rays.
Dr. Timothy Davis
Radiology 26 years experience
Not likely: Radiation exposure varies widely with the test. We try to minimize, but risk is small. Ct is the most concerning modality. There is tiny risk with each scan. Because cancer is so common, tiny risk increase is difficult to measure. Your lifetime chance of cancer overall is already very high without imaging, and about 1 in 1000 of the cancers you could get might be caused by ct scans.
Dr. Joseph Accurso
Radiology 30 years experience
Yes but very lo risk: All ionizing radiation can induce genetic damage which could lead to cancer. However, this is related to the type of radiation, frequency and intensity. There is no good data at the low levels used. Ct has the highest radiation dose. However it is an extremely useful tool and the radiation risk should not prevent its use when clinically indicated. Medical necessity should drive imaging use.
Last updated Feb 21, 2015

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