CT causes worries between patients in Australia

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According to several reports, some cancer patients are postponing their own diagnosis as a result of a CTreluctance to get checked by CT scans. Last March, concerns were raised about over-using of CT scans in Australia. Doctors were asked to stop the excessive requesting of scans as there are worries it could result in cancer. The procedure is a medical imaging technique that is performed by using X-rays and digital computer technology to generate multiple cross-section images of the body.

Based on reports coming from Medicare's watchdog, the Professional Services Review, these reports confirmed that there was a trend of doctors requesting the scans without clinical outcome and with less understanding of the accompanied health risks. Dr. Matthew Andrews, the director of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, mentioned that he was aware of reports of patients cancelling procedures as a result of the worries caused by the Review. Dr. Andrews said "We are very concerned about that because the vast bulk of patients that have medical imaging performed, including CT scans, have those performed for clinically indicated reasons," he added "To avoid those is clearly risky for those patients and it is far riskier than any potential small radiation risk that may be involved in performing the procedure."

He also pointed that the advantages of having a CT scan are far exceeding any risk included with radiation levels. He explained "We always perform the minimum dose that we can get away with. Ideally, if we can get away with a test that uses no ionizing radiation, such as MRI or ultrasound, we will do that first," he added "If we need to use an ionizing radiation we will minimize the dose to obtain the diagnosis." However, Dr. Andrews stated that there is minimal risk that CT scan would result in enlarging tumor sizes in patients. He said "I think the way to look at this is that CT, appropriately used, is a tool that detects cancers - way, way many more cancers than it could potentially cause,"

Yet, he confirmed that the scans are currently being over-used in a way considering CT as a first choice tool. He added that some people actually undergo the scans and get exposed to radiation while they do not seem to need it. He said "There are instances where CT scanning is being performed, mainly because of access and payment issues with Medicare," and "CT will be used because a patient can get access to a Medicare rebate when in fact an MRI scan will be more appropriate. Unfortunately the access to the Medicare rebate is not as universal for the CT." Dr. Andrews concluded by recommending all patients to review their concerns and worries with their doctor.


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