Risks of Radiation - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Risks of Radiation

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WSVN -- Morning workouts help Kathy Brown build physical strength. Just five years ago, she was hit by a car. In a coma for six weeks, doctors ordered CT scans to monitor the swelling in her brain.

Kathy Brown: "Daily, they would take me down to gauge it."

But to say Kathy is a survivor is only telling half her story. She also beat cervical and ovarian cancer, thanks to surgery and weeks of radiation therapy. Because of all those treatments, she believes she's been exposed to a lot of radiation in her lifetime.

Kathy Brown: "I would imagine a substantial amount."

Kathy says, for her, the radiation exposure was worth the risk.

Kathy Brown: "This is what's taken me from being in a potential vegetative state to being a thinking, functioning human. I would do it again without pause."

But that's not true in all cases. Studies show, a third of all tests are considered unnecessary, putting adults and kids at an increased risk of cancer.

A CT scan of our chest area or midsection gives off between 10 to 20 millisieverts. That is up to 20 times more than a mammogram, 200 times more than a chest X-ray, and 400 times more than a dental X-ray. The FDA tells the Associated Press, the dose given off by CT scans and X-rays needs to be better disclosed and monitored.

Dr. John Sullebarger, Cardiologist: "The majority of patients are just not going to keep track of that."

Cardiologist John Sullebarger believes, electronic medical records could be the solution. Knowing what tests the patient's already had will keep doctors from ordering unneeded scans.

Dr. John Sullebarger: "I think we need to turn back a little bit more towards taking the time to actually talk to the patient, get a little better history, actually examine them physically, and don't rely so much on technology to evaluate them."

As for Kathy, she'll continue hitting the gym. And while she won't worry about the extra rays, she agrees, changes do need to be made.

Kathy Brown: "It's a good time to start marking and keeping track."

Diana Diaz: "Some estimate that five to 15 CT scans could put you at an increased risk, but there's no telling how much radiation is too much."

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