Radiation-related cancer risks from CT colonography screening: A risk-benefit analysis
OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to estimate the ratio of cancers prevented to induced (benefit-risk ratio) for CT colonography (CTC) screening every 5 years from the age of 50 to 80 years. MATERIALS AND METHODS. Radiation-related cancer risk was estimated using risk projection models based on the National Research Council's Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII Committee's report and screening protocols from the American College of Radiology Imaging Network's National CT Colonography Trial. Uncertainty intervals were estimated using Monte Carlo simulation methods. Comparative modeling with three colorectal cancer microsimulation models was used to estimate the potential reduction in colorectal cancer cases and deaths. RESULTS. The estimated mean effective dose per CTC screening study was 8 mSv for women and 7 mSv for men. The estimated number of radiation-related cancers resulting from CTC screening every 5 years from the age of 50 to 80 years was 150 cases/100,000 individuals screened (95% uncertainty interval, 80-280) for men and women. The estimated number of colorectal cancers prevented by CTC every 5 years from age 50 to 80 ranged across the three microsimulation models from 3580 to 5190 cases/100,000 individuals screened, yielding a benefit-risk ratio that varied from 24:1 (95% uncertainty interval, 13:1-45:1) to 35:1 (19:1-65:1). The benefit-risk ratio for cancer deaths was even higher than the ratio for cancer cases. Inclusion of radiation-related cancer risks from CT examinations performed to follow up extracolonic findings did not materially alter the results. CONCLUSION. Concerns have been raised about recommending CTC as a routine screening tool because of potential harms including the radiation risks. Based on these models, the benefits from CTC screening every 5 years from the age of 50 to 80 years clearly outweigh the radiation risks.