Radiation risks from imaging studies in children with cancer

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2008 Oct;51(4):453-7. doi: 10.1002/pbc.21599.


Individuals exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation are known to be at risk of developing cancer. Recent reviews about the late effects of ionizing radiation indicate that even low doses of radiation can cause cancer. Significant radiation exposure occurs with commonly used imaging studies including CT scans, PET scans, and bone scans. Children with cancer, particularly those children with solid tumors, are exposed to frequent low doses of ionizing radiation from multiple imaging studies performed at initial diagnosis, throughout treatment, and during the follow-up period. This review provides estimates of cumulative radiation doses from imaging studies in children undergoing chemotherapy and/or surgery for various malignancies. Current risk estimates indicate that the radiation exposure from these imaging studies may be sufficient to increase the lifetime risk of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Risk