Pre-natal or early childhood exposure to medical radiation used in diagnosis or treatment is an identified risk for childhood cancers but can be difficult to document. The author developed a family questionnaire/interview form to identify possible exposures.
This retrospective study examines pre-natal and early childhood medical radiation exposure in a cohort of children diagnosed with a lymphoma or leukemia from 1998-2013at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP). The hospital is a tri-state regional referral center which treats about 150-180 new cases of cancer in children per year. About 50% are diagnosed with a blood cancer.
Each consented family so far (approximately 50% of the cohort) has been interviewed in person or by phone call. Medical staff and psycho- social staff referred patient families for interview with the author.
Among the families interviewed to date at least one medical radiation exposure has been identified (pre-conception, pre-natal or early childhood) in over 70% of diagnosed children. These exposures have included pre-conception sinus or chest CT or x-ray in either parent, sinus CT or x-ray in mother or diagnostic radiation of chest or abdomen in children.
Conclusions: Exposures to medical radiation for a child later diagnosed with cancer may occur at several critical junctures. These exposures may well contribute to a “perfect storm” in the still elusive causes of childhood cancer. The author plans to expand the study from 1970 to present to hopefully further document these junctures.