Computed Tomography and Related Cancer Risks

Radiation exposure can have negative effects, including the development of cancer. Consequently, it is important to establish if computed tomography (CT) can induce cancer. This information is necessary to develop reasonable programs for screening high-risk populations because CT is an effective screening tool (Miller et al., 2016). Excessive fear of CT scanning can result in the procedure being avoided needlessly (Cohen, 2016). Recent research suggests that a relationship between CT and cancer can be found, and these risks need to be considered, but they can be justified for some populations.

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The investigation of CT and its effects is an ongoing one. Since CT is often applied to people who already demonstrate signs of cancer, conclusive statements are difficult to make at this point (Krille et al., 2015). Still, studies consistently find increased cancer risks in people undergoing CT, or they fail to rule out the possibility of CT having that effect (Krille et al., 2015; Rampinelli et al., 2017). For example, Rampinelli et al. (2017) used the data of a trial with over 5,200 participants and found that the additional risks associated with ten years of CT amounted to 0.05%. The determined risk level allowed expecting 1 case of CT-induced lung cancer per 108 CT-detected cancers. Rampinelli et al. (2017) also performed a risk-benefit analysis. According to them, the improvement of survivability, which is associated with CT (Miller et al., 2016), could make this risk almost negligible.

In summary, research demonstrates that CT may indeed increase the risks of cancer, but it also shows that CT’s value cannot be overstated. Many procedures that are used to save lives carry some risks, and CT is one of them. Thus, it is logical to incorporate related considerations into CT screening, but CT still needs to be promoted for the people who are likely to benefit from it.


Cohen, M. (2016). Understanding the problem of a parent’s fear of their child getting cancer from CT scan radiation. Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 51(7), 1222-1227. Web.

Krille, L., Dreger, S., Schindel, R., Albrecht, T., Asmussen, M., Barkhausen, J.,… Gianicolo, E. A. L. (2015). Risk of cancer incidence before the age of 15 years after exposure to ionising radiation from computed tomography: Results from a German cohort study. Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, 54(1), 1-12. Web.

Miller, D., Mayfield, W., Luu, T., Helms, G., Muster, A., Beckler, V., & Cann, A. (2016). Community-based multidisciplinary computed tomography screening program improves lung cancer survival. The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, 101(5), 1864-1869. Web.

Rampinelli, C., De Marco, P., Origgi, D., Maisonneuve, P., Casiraghi, M., Veronesi, G.,… Bellomi, M. (2017). Exposure to low dose computed tomography for lung cancer screening and risk of cancer: Secondary analysis of trial data and risk-benefit analysis. BMJ, 356, Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, August 4). Computed Tomography and Related Cancer Risks. Retrieved from

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Computed Tomography and Related Cancer Risks'. 4 August.

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