Safer Scans - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Safer Scans

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WSVN -- Like any 6-year-old boy, Justin Baker loves playing catch with his dad and riding his bike, but this is a far cry from where he was just two years ago.

Kelley Baker, Justin's Mom: "He was lethargic and not eating, and just not acting himself, but as a mom you just chalk that up to, he's just growing or he's fussy today."

But, it was much more serious. Justin was diagnosed with ALL or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, cancer of the bone marrow.

Kelley Baker: "There I am thinking I'm going to lose my baby, this can't be happening to me, this isn't fair why is it me?"

Justin underwent eight months of aggressive chemotherapy at Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital. During that time he had several CT scans to make sure the cancer wasn't spreading.

Dr. Debra Lau, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital: "We do hundreds of scans on kids every day."

Dr. Debra Lau says CT scans help doctors see what's going on inside the body.

Dr. Debra Lau, Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital: "This beam of radiation kind of spirals around you, collects the data and then the computer reconstructs that data, slices it up like a loaf of bread, and then we interpret the images."

But, those scans expose patients to radiation and while the long-term effects are not known. Kids are at a greater risk.

Dr. Debra Lau: "They're small, their cells are very vulnerable to radiation, so it follows them to assume there must be some adverse effect."

That's why the hospital started an "image gently" campaign, which follows four guidelines.

Dr. Debra Lau: "Image only when necessary, number two is scan only the area of interest, followed by number three which is child-size the dose and the last one is image only once."

And parents are given a report card to keep track of how many scans their kids have had.

Dr. Debra Lau: "If they're doing a test, they're monitoring it and trying to make it the least. I don't want to use the word toxic, but it is radiation, the least amount of radiation as possible."

Two years after his diagnosis and Justin is doing great! His family is happy, they're doing everything they can to keep him healthy and happy.

Kelley Baker: "You have to be proactive as a parent. You have to be an advocate for your child, and I learned that through his illness."

The hospital is hoping other hospitals and imaging centers will follow suit and adjust the dosage for kids and adults.

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