Computed Tomography and Its Carcinogenic Effects in Children and Youth in Québec

Developments in diagnostic radiology have made it possible not only to perform increasingly precise scans and but also to reduce their associated radiation doses. Yet the growing use of these scans in medical practice and the advent of new technologies expose the population to an increasingly high collective dose. Computed tomography (CT) has been estimated to account for roughly 50% of diagnostic medical radiation in the general public, with another 25% due to nuclear medicine, and the remaining 25% due to all the other radiological tests (conventional radiography, fluoroscopy, PET, etc.). 

This report was prepared at the request of the Direction québécoise du cancer (DQC), which was especially interested in several issues: the cancer-related risks of diagnostic CT in children and young adults; available imaging options; and the means taken to reduce CT-related risks. The DQC asked us to focus on children and youth, given their increased sensitivity to radiation, their longer life expectancy, and the possibility that absorbed doses may be higher in these patients.