(HealthDay News) — The lifetime risk of cancer attributed to radiation exposure in children with heart disease is low, according to research published online in Circulation.

Jason N. Johnson, MD, MHS, of the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues evaluated the cumulative effective dose of radiation in 337 children with heart disease aged 6 years or younger. 

The authors sought to assess the lifetime attributable risk of cancer from imaging procedures. The children had undergone one of seven primary surgical procedures for heart disease.


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The researchers found that the most common radiation examination the children received was conventional radiographs (92%). The majority of cumulative exposure to radiation (81%) was attributed to cardiac catheterization and computed tomography. 

The overall associated lifetime attributable risk of cancer among the children was 0.07% (range, 0.001% to 6.5%). The median lifetime attributable risk of cancer varied widely according to the complexity of the surgical procedure performed (0.006% to 1.6%) and was twice as high per unit exposure in females versus males.

“To reduce long-term cancer risk, providers should target reducing radiation exposure in the highest-risk cohorts, including those children who will require repetitive high-exposure imaging and females because of their increased cancer risk,” the researchers wrote.

Reference

  1. Johnson JN, Hornik C, Li JS et al. Cumulative Radiation Exposure and Cancer Risk Estimation in Children with Heart Disease. Circulation. 2014;doi:10.1161/​CIRCULATIONAHA.113.005425.