By Dr. Brian McDonoughSponsored By Independence Blue Cross

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — CAT scans have revolutionized medical care, and there is no doubt that these tests have made evaluation of patients in emergency room settings much easier than decades ago, but are we getting too many of these scans?

Right now the estimate is over 75 million a year and climbing. The big question is: are they putting us at risk?

Well, it has been repeatedly studied. At this point there are no definitive studies to tell us whether CT scans increase the risk of cancer, but doctors estimate that radiation from two to three CAT scans is enough to measurably increase the cancer risk.

Clearly, if used appropriately, the risk of cancer is markedly outweighed by the need to have the scan, especially when it’s being used to diagnose an illness.

But the fewer times we experience the scans the better—that is just common sense.

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