Cancer risk from cardiac computed tomography overstated

August 24, 2017

The MUSC researchers presented their findings at the annual meeting of theRadiological Society of North America in Chicago.

In previously published studies, different researchers concluded the risk of cancer from radiation exposure during CT for cardiovascular disease was approximately 1 in 114, but the new study suggests the risk is 1 in 1000.

U. Joseph Schoepf, MD, and colleagues from MUSC, claim previous studies assessing lifetime risks of cancer from radiation in cardiac CT are based on unreliable models of patients who undergo CT for cardiovascular disease.

In conducting his study, Scheopf studied 104 consecutive patients undergoing 64-slice cardiac CT at the Medical University of South Carolina. The majority of the patients were male with median age of 59 and median weight of 202 pounds. The research team converted organ radiation doses into risk using a previously published and validated measure. Patient cancer risks were adjusted taking into account patient sex, age and weight, the latter being an often neglected factor influencing radiation risk.

The new risk in this patient population, which mirrors more closely the typical patients who receive cardiac CT, was 1 in 1000, Scheopf said.

"Thus, in a real-life clinical patient group, the realistic risk of radiation induced cancer from cardiac CT is substantially lower than previously reported for general populations," Scheopf said.

He added that radiation exposure is a serious issue and patients need to talk to their doctors before undergoing any tests that exposes them to radiation to ensure the test is appropriate and the patient fits under patient selection guidelines published by the American Heart Association and the American College of Radiology.


The project will then expand on this data by conducting an in-depth exploration of the biological and social effect of ageing in older Bangladeshi women (45+ years old) who migrated from Bangladesh to the UK, younger women (18-35 years old) born to migrants in the UK, and women of the same two age groups living in Bangladesh.  A public health perspective incorporating a social model of health will be used, which will allow the researchers to locate individuals in their social context and explore the impact of psychological, social, cultural and environmental factors on ageing, nutrition, health and related behaviours.

Additional information will be gathered to explore the plant and agricultural customs of Bangladeshi women living in the UK and in Bangladesh. The goal is to compare this information to determine how food-related knowledge is shared amongst two distinct generations, how knowledge sharing and food environments may differ between those living in the UK and those living in Bangladesh, and determine how these differences impact on the biological and social aspects of ageing amongst Bangladeshi women.

The MINA interdisciplinary research team comprises partners from eight disciplines and universities: public health nutrition and exercise (Janice Thompson, Bristol), public health nursing (Joy Merrell, Swansea), biological anthropology (Barry Bogin, Loughborough), health psychology (Petra Meier, Sheffield), ethnobotany (Michael Heinrich, London), environmental and media design (Vanja Garaj, Brunel), migration and social anthropology (Katy Gardner, Sussex), and social gerontology (Christina Victor, Reading).