A British government report has called for tighter
regulation of private clinics that offer full-body computed
tomography (CT) scans, saying that such scans expose
patients to a massive and cancer-promoting blast of
Many private clinics offer full-body CT scans to patients
who want to search for early indicators of heart disease
or cancer. In the United Kingdom, such scans typically
cost between £500 and £2,000 ($1,000-$4,000).
The new report by the Committee on the Medical Aspects
of Radiation strongly advises that private clinics end
this practice, and says that the government needs to
better regulate the practice.
scans expose patients to approximately 100 times
the radiation of a standard chest X-ray. Any radiation
exposure is known to increase the risk of cancer,
in particular, radiation in high doses. The report says
that for every 2,000 people getting a full-body CT scan
twice per year, one can be expected to contract a fatal
In addition, the report notes that such scans often
lead to false alarms that lead to great expense and
emotional distress for patients. Minor abnormalities
that are at no risk of becoming malignant that are detected
by a CT scan may lead to a series of unnecessary, invasive,
expensive and painful medical tests, in addition to
needless anxiety and fear.
This assessment echoes the position of the British Medical
Association, which has called private CT scans "a waste
of money" at best, and a health danger at worst.
The report recommends that patients who are exhibiting
symptoms that they want diagnosed with a CT scan should
instead be referred back to their general practitioner
In response to the report, the Department of Health
announced that government ministers will consult on
the issue and consider banning full-body CT scans except
in cases of medical necessity.