Report: Medical imaging boosts breast cancer risks

An Institute of Medicine report concluded last December, in part, that radiation exposure from CT scans and other medical imaging equipment could boost the risk of breast cancer. And now a new academic article evaluating the findings urges women to avoid any unnecessary medical imaging.

Such a finding is definitely bad publicity for medical imaging companies, whose products go through regulatory approval processes that are supposed to determine safety and effectiveness before they hit the market. And it also addresses the overuse of some medical devices and other tech that can help drive up healthcare costs. The article, published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, wants women to carefully ask their doctors a series of questions to be able to screen when an imaging order is necessary and when it isn't.

Regulators and health advocates are becoming increasingly aware of the issue of whether imaging equipment is used too much. Last month, the FDA issued guidance intended to limit children's exposure to radiation from CT scans and X-rays, urging companies to design newer devices with instructions and pediatric scans in mind. And cancer experts have long been urging limits to the preventative use of CT scans to screen patients who aren't in any immediate risk of getting lung cancer, again, to limit unnecessary radiation exposure as well as unneeded biopsies and surgeries.

"The single thing that the IOP highlighted that a woman can do to lower her risk of breast cancer is to avoid unnecessary medical imaging," the article's author, Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging, epidemiology and biostatistics at University of California, San Francisco, said in a statement. She also contributed to the IOM report.

- here's the release
- check out the article abstract

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