Screening computed tomography colonography with 256-slice scanning: should patient radiation burden and associated cancer risk constitute a major concern?

Invest Radiol. 2012 Aug;47(8):451-6. doi: 10.1097/RLI.0b013e318250a58c.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the radiation burden and the lifetime attributable risk (LAR) of radiation-induced cancer in patients undergoing screening 256-slice computed tomography colonography (CTC) and compare CTC-related radiogenic risks to corresponding nominal lifetime intrinsic risk of cancer.

Materials and methods: A Monte Carlo simulation software dedicated for computed tomography (CT) dosimetry was used to determine absorbed doses to primarily exposed radiosensitive organs of 31 women and 29 men subjected to screening CTC on a 256-slice CT scanner. Effective dose was estimated from (a) organ dose data and (b) dose-length product. Organ-specific and total LARs of cancer were estimated using published risk factors. Cumulative LARs from repeated CTC studies on individuals participating in a colorectal cancer screening program were compared with corresponding lifetime intrinsic risks.

Results: The mean organ dose-derived effective dose was estimated to be 2.92 and 2.61 mSv for female and male individuals, respectively. The dose-length product method was found to overestimate effective dose from CTC by 26% and 13% in female and male individuals, respectively. Compared with previously published results for 64-slice CT scanners, 256-slice CTC was found to be associated with up to 45% less radiation burden. The cumulative LAR of radiation-induced cancer from repeated quinquennial screening CTC studies between the ages of 50 and 80 years was estimated to increase the lifetime intrinsic risk of cancer by less than 0.2%.

Conclusion: The level of patient radiation burden and theoretical radiogenic cancer risks associated with screening CTC performed using modern low-dose protocols and techniques may not justify disapproval of CTC as a mass screening tool.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Burden*
  • Colonography, Computed Tomographic / adverse effects*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / adverse effects
  • Mass Screening / instrumentation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Organs at Risk / radiation effects*
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Risk Assessment
  • Safety
  • Software