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CT scans and Fleet Street scams

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Tagged: / Posted: 17 December 2009

The Independent and other British titles made much of US research into the possible impact on cancer rates of the use of CT scans. The link is not nearly as clear as the news stories made out. In particular, the UK use of CT scans is siginficantly different to the US use.

 Alex Sandison wrote to this site: "I thought you might be interested to know that the recent scare stories
about CT doses in America have little or no relevance to the UK.  Reviews
of CT doses in the UK have been carried out by the NRPB (now the Health Protection Agency) since
2003 (Ref 1).  Reviews of radiation exposures from other medical x-ray
examinations have been carried out regularly since 1986 (Ref 2).

By law under the Ionising Radiation (Medical Exposure) Regulations there is
a requirement to carry justification and optimisation of all ionising
radiation examinations.

There is a very different ethos regarding the use of ionising radiation in
the USA than the UK, and for a long time this has been common knowledge
professionally.

The UK Health Protection Agency has provided a press release commenting on
this story (Ref 3).

Regards, and thanks for the work you have put into Flat Earth News.

Alex Sandison
(Not writing on behalf of the NHS, however offering my personal viewpoint
as a HPC registered professional)

 Ref 1: NRPB - W67 Doses from Computed Tomography (CT) Examinations in the
UK - 2003 Review, Authors: P C Shrimpton, M C Hillier, M A Lewis and M
Dunn, Publication date: March 2005, ISBN: 0-85951-556-7

Ref 2:R200, P C Shrimpton et al. A National Survey of Doses to Patients
Undergoing a Selection of Routine X-Ray Examinations in English Hospitals
(1986),ISBN 0-85951-275-4, £9.00

Ref 3:
http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1259152275659?p=1158934607708&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1259152275659?p=1158934607708  (As a side issue, this press release is an interesting example of PR weakness - it is saying something important but in an obscure way, with key points lost down low in the copy.   Nick)

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