Q. I had an increased radiation exposure. Will I get cancer?

Answered by
Dr. Ruchi Bahuguna
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Mar 10, 2021

Hi doctor,

I am anxious because I have been having chest pain after COVID-19. I took nine chest x-rays, one abdomen x-ray, two CT scans,and one abdomen CT scan. I am so scared that all the radiation exposure has increased my cancer risk, and these tests were done in a little time. Will I get cancer? Did I go overboard? I cannot sleep, eat or stop crying. Please tell me.



Welcome to icliniq.com.

I went through your case history and would like to discuss with you the following points. Radiation from one chest x-ray is roughly about 0.02 mSv, and one x-ray abdomen is approximately about 0.07 mSv, one CT (computed tomography) chest is approximately about 5-8 mSv, and one CT abdomen roughly about 5-10 mSv. The actual radiation absorbed depends upon many factors, such as body size, duration of the scan, the sensitivity of the tissue being scanned, type of machine being used, etc. There is no magic number as to how many scans or x-rays can cause damage to the body, but according to the American College of Radiology guidelines, the lifetime diagnostic radiation exposure should be limited to a 100 mSv. The important thing to remember is that any overexposure or repeated exposure to radiation does carry a risk of cancer. So always keep a record of your diagnostic tests and discuss the benefits versus the side effects of the diagnostic test you are to undergo with your health care provider.

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