A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) found that children under 18 years of age who receive a single CT scan do not have an increased risk of brain tumors, leukemia, or lymphoma. However, exposure to four or more CT scans before adulthood more than doubles the risk of developing these conditions.

The use of CT scans in children has increased globally in recent years, but there is conflicting evidence regarding the potential cancer risks associated with these scans in this age group. CT scans use low-dose radiation that can harm cells.

To investigate the potential link between CT scans and cancer, researchers analyzed data from 7,807 children in Taiwan who were diagnosed with intracranial tumors, leukemia, or lymphoma between 2000 and 2013. They compared the tumor rates of children who had received CT scans with those who had not, using a control group of 78,057 children from the Taiwanese national health system.

The study found that a single CT scan did not increase the risk of any of the cancers compared to no exposure. However, children who received two to three CT scans had an increased risk of intracranial tumors, while those who received four or more CT scans had more than twice the risk of developing intracranial tumors, leukemia, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The authors of the study emphasize the importance of radiation protection strategies, as outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and recommend avoiding unnecessary CT scans. They also suggest that special attention should be given to patients who require repeated CT scans, especially younger children who appear to be more susceptible to developing cancer from repeated exposure to CT scans.

Moreover, the authors advise that parents and pediatric patients should be fully informed about the risks and benefits of radiological procedures and encouraged to participate in decision-making regarding imaging. Although these types of tumors and cancers are rare, the authors urge cautious use of CT scan technology and recommend that healthcare providers consider utilizing techniques that reduce radiation exposure.