The radiation exposure of patients also jumped over time, driven by the increase in the number of scans ordered. CT and PET scans use ionizing radiation; M.R.I.’s do not.
“Getting one exam, one would not be particularly concerned — the risks are exceptionally tiny,” said John D. Boice Jr., president of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. “Multiple exams are a different issue.È
Some doctors said that although imaging is overused, aspects of the new study are to be welcomed.
“In many ways it’s very good news,” said William R. Hendee, a professor of radiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “A lot more patients are benefiting from advanced imaging procedures than were able to in the late 1990s.È
An editorial accompanying the study suggests that doctors need to discuss the risks of radiation exposure with patients.
As always, it is a balance of risks: when needed, CT and PET scans are powerful tools (i.e., in my case to track treatment progress), when optional, one should have the discussion with one’s doctor on the various risks.