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Understanding Cancer Series

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  • Posted: 04/07/2006
  • Reviewed: 11/04/2010

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Slide 26

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Diagnostic and Screening X-rays

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X-rays, mammograms, and radiation therapy all involve exposure to ionizing radiation. An X-ray of the chest exposes a patient to only a small amount of radiation--about the same as one gets from two airplane flights across the United States.

Studies have not shown an elevated cancer risk associated with X-rays taken to diagnose a disease or condition. One exception to this is in children whose mothers received X-rays while pregnant: the children were found to have increased risks of leukemia and other types of cancers. Because of this finding, X-rays to diagnose a condition in pregnant women are no longer recommended.

Talk with your doctor about the need for each X-ray that he or she suggests. Ask about shields to protect other parts of your body during an X-ray.

Diagnostic and Screening X-rays