Cancer risks following diagnostic and therapeutic radiation exposure in children.
Pediatr Radiol. 2006 Sep;36 Suppl 2:121-5. PMID: 16862418
Radiation Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, EPS 7044, 6120 Executive Blvd., Rockville, MD 20852, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The growing use of interventional and fluoroscopic imaging in children represents a tremendous benefit for the diagnosis and treatment of benign conditions. Along with the increasing use and complexity of these procedures comes concern about the cancer risk associated with ionizing radiation exposure to children. Children are considerably more sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation than adults, and children have a longer life expectancy in which to express risk. Numerous epidemiologic cohort studies of childhood exposure to radiation for treatment of benign diseases have demonstrated radiation-related risks of cancer of the thyroid, breast, brain and skin, as well as leukemia. Many fewer studies have evaluated cancer risk following diagnostic radiation exposure in children. Although radiation dose for a single procedure might be low, pediatric patients often receive repeated examinations over time to evaluate their conditions, which could result in relatively high cumulative doses. Several cohort studies of girls and young women subjected to multiple diagnostic radiation exposures have been informative about increased mortality from breast cancer with increasing radiation dose, and case-control studies of childhood leukemia and postnatal diagnostic radiation exposure have suggested increased risks with an increasing number of examinations. Only two long-term follow-up studies of cancer following cardiac catheterization in childhood have been conducted, and neither reported an overall increased risk of cancer. Most cancers can be induced by radiation, and a linear dose-response has been noted for most solid cancers. Risks of radiation-related cancer are greatest for those exposed early in life, and these risks appear to persist throughout life.