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Amber Wheat
Amber Wheat
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Risks of Radiological Studies

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Yesterday, MSNBC reported on a study by the National Council of Radiation Protection and Measurement. The report stated that Americans are exposed to seven times the radiation that they were in 1980. It goes on to accuse doctors of requesting radiological scans because it pads their pocket books instead of for the benefit of the patient.

After reading the recent post on the risks and benefits of radiological studies by my boss, Barbara, I was concerned that reports like this would confuse people and ultimately cause them to make dangerous choices.

We all understand that radiological scans emit radiation right? But when doctor thinks it’s necessary to diagnose a problem, I am not about to tell her “No, thank you.” This morning MSNBC staff writer Clara Moskowitz posted a great piece in response to the report from yesterday. She explained the flaws in the data and logically rationalized the increase in exposure to radiation. I was glad to have both sides of the argument represented and I respect MSNBC for that.

Yet another article was featured today regarding a new use for PET scans. Doctors who work with cancer patients may be able to tell if the treatment is working in as little as one day eventually. The NCRPM is probably cringing at the suggested regular use of these scans which are very similar to CT scans, but doctors are looking forward to reducing costs of expensive treatments that may not be working. And patients are looking forward to not having to wait six weeks to know if treatment is working.

We are left with a dilemma here. Are Americans being overexposed to radiation? The technology is here now and it can’t be undiscovered. CT scans, X-rays, and PET scans increase the quality of care we receive. Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros
Quicker Diagnosis of Problems
Quicker Assessment of Treatment
Discovery of Unconnected Issues
New, Less Invasive Cancer Treatment

Cons
Expense
Risk of Overexposure to Radiation (more likely that you’ll die from drowning)

Are there any other benefits? Are there any other risks? As for me, I would rather risk the exposure to radiation and know what is going on in my body. What would you choose?