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Policy Statement Of The International Organization For Medical Physics.
Published 2013 · Medicine
Over the past few years papers have appeared in the scientific literature that predict thousands of cancers and cancer deaths each year in populations of patients receiving medical imaging procedures (primarily computed tomography) employing ionizing radiation. The predictions in these papers are computed by estimating very small and hypothetical risks at low radiation doses and multiplying these speculative estimates by large numbers of patients experiencing medical imaging. The public media use these papers to develop print and electronic news releases that raise anxiety in parents, families and patients, at times causing them to delay or defer needed imaging procedures. Decisions to delay or defer examinations constitute real risks to patients, as contrasted with the hypothetical risks presented in the papers. Professional organizations, including the American Association of Physicists in Medicine and the Health Physics Society, have developed policy positions in an effort to illuminate the controversy over the risks of low-level radiation exposures (see URLs in the supporting documents and additional readings). Scientific advisory groups such as the International Commission on Radiological Protection, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation have also addressed the controversy (see URLs in the supporting documents and additional readings). Now the International Organization for Medical Physics, representing 80 national and six regional medical physics organizations and 18,000 medical physicists worldwide, has developed its own policy statement which is reproduced below. One can only hope that the policy statements issued by these knowledgeable organizations will have some deterrent influence on the continued propagation of unsupportable cancer risk estimates related to medical imaging procedures conducted with minimum doses of radiation consistent with high quality studies.