Q. I had multiple CT scans with contrast. Do I run the risk of developing cancer?

Answered by
Dr. Vivek Chail
and medically reviewed by Dr. K Shobana
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 09, 2021

Hi doctor,

I suffer from tachycardia post covid for two weeks. I had a nuclear stress test with Lexiscan as I could not able to do treadmill. After a week, I did a chest CT with IV contrast for knowing whether I have a blood clot or not. Now I have overcome anxiety developed due to high radiation exposure. I got this for two weeks. I read that the nuclear stress test done with Lexiscan has a high radiation danger. I am concerned about the amount of radiation exposure got recently. With all the CT and imaging, does it increase the risk of developing cancer in me? I have done ten CT scans with one fluoroscopic imaging. I know that I am the only person having more radiation exposure than anyone.



Welcome to

Radiation exposure from diagnostic images causes a small increased risk of developing cancer. It is much more significant in children and it is less in adults. There are many factors in radiation exposure that is responsible for the development of cancer. The small radiation dose for months or years produces a less likely chance to cause cancer when compared to the frequent radiation exposure or a single high dose of radiation exposure. The radiation effects are in a dose based and non-dose based manner. So, the dose is not only the criteria for causing cancer. In your case, both tests are necessary to rule out the complications in the heart and blood vessels and it cannot be avoided.

Thank you doctor,

I want to know whether nuclear stress Lexiscan and CT with IV contrast constitute a high dose of radiation exposure. Can I have supplements to mitigate the damages in the future?



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The dosage is mild to moderate in both procedures. There are procedures like cath lab which involve higher doses of radiation. There is research going on with the diet for reducing the effects of radiation exposure. Taking antioxidants can help you a lot. There are many foods that contain antioxidants and you can choose to add some of them to your diet.

Thank you doctor,

I have read that radiation is measured in mSv. How many mSv are present in nuclear Lexiscan and CT chest with IV contrast?



Welcome back to

The radiation exposure of CT (computed tomography) pulmonary angiogram is 15 mSv and for a nuclear stress test is 10 mSV (upper limit). So the maximum dose you have received is 35 mSv. The total increased relative risk due to the recent procedure is 0.14 percent. There is a ninety-nine chance for you to have no problem from radiation exposure. But one in 695 people who got a similar radiation dose get cancer due to the event of radiation exposure.

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