Blog | Tuesday, August 24, 2010

QD: News Every Day--radiation risk in breast cancer tests

Certain diagnostic tests for breast cancer may put patients at risk for additional disease, the New York Times reports. A study published today in Radiology found that nuclear-based breast scans such as positron-emission mammography can increase risk for other cancers. The point of the study, the lead author told the Times, was to show that all tests are not created equal where radiation is concerned. Manufacturers of the nuclear-based tests agreed that they expose patients to more radiation than mammography but pointed out that they're not intended for routine screening. Concerned physicians, meanwhile, could follow the approach of Deborah J. Rhodes, FACP, who told the Times she considers herself a "radiation phobe": Don't order tests blindly--look up the amount of radiation involved and balance the risks and benefits in the context of a patient's past radiation, as well as available alternatives, before proceeding. (New York Times)