Every day, 19,500 CT (computed tomography) scans are performed in the United States. From 2005 to 2007 more than 70 percent of American adults were zapped. CT scans typically give you the radiation of 75 chest X-rays. We now believe that around 29,000 future cases of cancer will result from the 72 million scans done in 2007 alone.
In addition to CTs, there are other scans to avoid if not necessary: PET scans, dental X-rays, virtual colonoscopies, and more. In "Minority Report," Tom Cruise's character has his eyes scanned by an ad that then greets him by name; not so far-fetched when you consider there's a casino in Vegas with advertisements that scan a passerby and offer shopping suggestions.
So what can you do? A new Institute of Medicine report says eliminating unnecessary CT scans lowers a woman's risk of breast cancer. The American College of Radiology and the American Academy of Family Physicians advise people to be equally cautious about scans for headaches or lower back pain.
We say be a smart consumer of scans. While CT and other X-rays can be life-saving and make earlier diagnosis possible, always ask:
• Is this scan necessary? (We say to ask three times!) Could a different test with less radiation provide the needed information for my diagnosis? And could a different test be as useful in determining how my condition is treated?
• Is the scan set to use the lowest dose necessary for results?
• Can I wait to see a specialist first?
Be scanner smart.
© 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.