This review provides a practical overview of the excess cancer risks related to radiation from medical imaging. Primary care physicians should have a basic understanding of these risks. Because of recent attention to this issue, patients are more likely to express concerns over radiation risk. In addition, physicians can play a role in reducing radiation risk to their patients by considering these risks when making imaging referrals. This review provides a brief overview of the evidence pertaining to low-level radiation and excess cancer risks and addresses the radiation doses and risks from common medical imaging studies. Specific subsets of patients may be at greater risk from radiation exposure, and radiation risk should be considered carefully in these patients. Recent technical innovations have contributed to lowering the radiation dose from computed tomography, and the referring physician should be aware of these innovations in making imaging referrals.