A study led by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which LIST experts contributed to with their software solution, evaluated brain cancer risk in children and young adults who have undergone computed tomography (CT) scans. The study, published on 6 December in The Lancet Oncology, shows a significant dose-response relationship between the CT-related radiation dose and brain cancer risk: one case of radiation-associated brain cancer is expected per 10,000 individuals who had a head CT in the 5-15 years following the scan.
Although the risks observed in the study are very low, these results stress the importance of justifying CT scans and lowering the radiation dose as much as reasonably possible. CT scans provide essential diagnostic information, which is sometimes lifesaving. However, patients are exposed to much higher radiation doses than those associated with chest X-rays and most other radiological diagnostic procedures.
In this context, the software developed by Andreas Jahnen, Senior R&T Associate at LIST and co-author of the paper, collected Digital Imaging and Communications (DICOM) metadata from Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) databases in 70 hospitals throughout Europe. Combined with data from cancer registries, this LIST solution enabled the reconstruction of doses to individual organ and resulted in a reduced uncertainty of those organ dose estimates.
“For a cohort study like this, we typically take a large number of CT scans and assign them an average individual exposure dose. Here, with the help of our solution, which collected these tens of thousands of CT image data, we were able to give a much more accurate estimate of the dose received for each patient,” explained Andreas Jahnen.
More information about the study:
The research is part of the European EPI-CT cohort study, which is coordinated by the Section of Environment and Radiation at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). No less than 18 European partners cooperated in this project. In total, the IARC and its partners analysed data from 658,752 children who had one or more CT scans at 276 hospitals in 9 European countries. To date, it is the largest international study on cancer risks among young patients who underwent CT scans.