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how many CT scans is too many?


Curious as I have a rare disease and the only way to check on things is by CT scan. When I have "flare up", I need a scan. It's nothing to need it done 3-5 times year, however the doctors are concerned of the side affects of having so many but at the same time, they don't have a choice. They keep saying it's putting me at risk for cancer which I'm a bit confused over....do that not usually use radiation to get rid of cancer?? If so, than why would the radiation cause cancer from a CT scan?
Feb 08, 2016 @ 02:02 pm

4 Replies


Wish I had the answer

Pink I wish I had the answer to your question. I did some light searching online to see if anything came up on the effects of too many CT scans, and there is some information. I found this:

Use of CTs Growing

Approximately 68 million CT exams were performed in the United States in 2007, up from 62 million the previous year.

Unlike conventional X-rays, CT -- short for computed tomography -- provides a detailed, three-dimensional image of internal organs, which helps physicians diagnose and track the spread of disease.

“We know that many patients have multiple scans,” Sodickson says. “But we really haven’t had good information on the individual patient’s risk. That is what we tried to do in this study.”

Thanks to an electronic database, the researchers were able to track the CT histories of more than 31,400 patients who had a CT scan in 2007 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital or Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Center.

They found that:

  • 5% of the patients in the study had received more than 22 CT scans, and 1% had received more than 38 examinations.
  • 15% of the patients had received estimated cumulative radiation doses that were higher than the radiation exposure from 1,000 chest X-rays.
  • 4% of patients had lifetime exposures equivalent to 2,500 conventional chest X-rays.

Using a cancer risk assessment model, the researchers found that 7.3% of the study participants had an elevated risk of cancer because of radiation from CT scans.

The risk was very small for most patients, totaling just 1% over the average lifetime risk of 42%.

But about 1% of the patients in the study had CT-related elevations in risk of between 2.7% and 12%.

“CT is an amazing diagnostic tool, and the last thing we would want to see is patients refusing needed scans because they are worried about cancer,” Sodickson says. “But patients and their physicians also need to be aware that there are risks and those risks add up over time.”

I do hope that you are ok.
Keep taking care of yourself and remember to laugh often :)
Feb 08, 2016 @ 02:19 pm

CT Scans and Cancer

I don't know if CT Scans causes cancer or not,I know my sister is after having a lot in this past year and in an hours time,I have to take her out for another one.
I don't like it and I am going to ask the Tech about it because Doctor's don't tell their patients everything ,that is what I think.
Feb 08, 2016 @ 02:38 pm


Yeah my moms doctor said how bad ct scans were. She had radiation and the side effects of it weren't good. They say it can cause cancer but I don't know how it all works.
Feb 08, 2016 @ 02:52 pm

thank you

Thank you so much for all your replies. I know the one technician said they get concerned more so if you are child-bearing age or younger due to it possibly making it difficult to get pregnant etc. However when I told her I had an emergency hysterectomy at age 28 (I'm 41 now), she said it was ok then as it won't affect me that way obviously. The technician didn't feel I needed to be concerned as the most I've had in one year was 5....usually I average 3 per year. It's the radiologist and family doctor that are concerned but the urologist doesn't seem concerned.
Feb 08, 2016 @ 03:08 pm

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