Exposure of the prostate to diagnostic radiological procedures may be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer (2008;98:1852-1856).


Kenneth Muir, MD, at the University of Nottingham Medical School in the United Kingdom and his collaborators compared 431 young-onset cancer cases with 409 controls frequency-matched by age. They looked at five common radiological procedures that would deliver a radiation dose to the region of the prostate: barium meal, barium enema, hip and leg x-rays, and IV pyelogram.

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Exposures to barium enema and hip x-rays at least five years before diagnosis were associated with a significant twofold increase in prostate cancer risk, after adjusting for potential confounders. Among those with a family history of cancer, exposures to hip x-rays more than 10 or 20 years before diagnosis were associated with a significant five- and 14-fold increased risk of prostate cancer, respectively.


“Until more evidence is available, practitioners should adopt a more cautious approach to diagnostic radiology procedures and consider an increasing use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as opposed to CT and better shielding of the prostate during such procedures,” the authors concluded.