• How many scans can our body take in a lifetime? When is it too many?

    Asked by CancerChicky on Wednesday, April 3, 2019

    How many scans can our body take in a lifetime? When is it too many?

    I have been through several MRIs, cat scans, pet scans, Xrays, a bone scan, and more. Where is the limit? Anyone know?

    7 Answers from the Community

    7 answers
    • po18guy's Avatar

      MRIs use no radiation. Neither do Ultrasounds. X-rays are about like a walk in the park - really. Except that they are confined to one body part, whereas radiation from the sun affects your entire body. Dexa scans are low risk, as they are a completely different type of radiation - notice that te technician sits right next to you.

      CTs and PETs are different. A few years back, the software was re-written to reduce the amount of ionizing radiation you receive from the scans, I have had about 40 CT series (head to pelvis) and about a dozen PET scans. There is no definable limit, as each body deals with radiation differently. The trend is to reduce scanning, if that helps.

      about 1 year ago
    • carm's Avatar

      Hello, I am an oncology nurse and that's a great question. Normally you are allowed 2 PET scans in a year providing other scans were inconclusive. When your blood counts start to fall and come backup slower and slower, it could be the cause of over radiation. A lot of the radiation from a CT or Chest X-rays dissipate over 3 months. PET scans are different because you are literally injected with radiation in a radio isotope. To give you an example of the amount of radiation there is in a CT... 1 CT of the abdomen is equal to 300 chest X-rays in the amount of radiation gys given. However, spaced apart the level decreases over time. I hope this helps answer your question.

      about 1 year ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      I was getting two CT scans every 6 weeks for years while I was in a clinical trial. Now, I get one, once every 4 months ... which I've done for the last year or so.

      I haven't seemed to have any issues (yet) with the scans, but I developed an allergy to the iodine they injected to make the scans easier to read. I can't get the dye any longer.

      about 1 year ago
    • andreacha's Avatar

      LiveWithCancer -- I was like you. From[phone number redacted] I was fine with the CT dye. So, from mid 2012 to present all CTs are without contrast of any kind. They also stopped my MRI contrast at the same time. Apparently, it can damage the kidneys, and since I only have part of one left, I think that was a good decision. I am so fortunate that the group of radiologists that read my scans are excellent.

      about 1 year ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      @andreacha, sometimes, my radiologists complain about the lack of dye, but I've seen the scans ... they look pretty clear to me... I went into shock from the dye one time - it worried them a lot ... so my files are marked and double marked ... no iodine dye!!!! (I had a MRI and I mentioned to them that I couldn't have dye. They told me theirs was different and wouldn't bother me. I was a little worried, but they were right. Thankfully, though, my kidneys are okay so far so we don't have the same concerns as you do!!!

      about 1 year ago
    • SandiA's Avatar

      @LiveWithCaner how did you know you developed the allergy. I had a scan yesterday and had the dye. It went well and I always get that warm feeling but yesterday it felt warmer and lasted a little longer. About the time I was going to say something it got better. So i didn’t but I wondered if you can develop a reaction after years of no reaction.

      about 1 year ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      @SandiA, the first time I had an allergic reaction, I thought I was having a panic attack. I could barely breathe. I sat out front in the lobby for a few minutes and talked to myself about panicking. (I do not have anxiety attacks and had no reason to have an anxiety attack, but I never dreamed I was having an allergic reaction.) I didn't say anything to anyone and it got better after a bit of time.

      Too bad I didn't pay attention or know that what I was experiencing was a problem. The next scan, there was no hiding the fact that I was having symptoms. The moment they unhooked me, I had a terrible taste in my mouth (more so than normal), was so dizzy I could barely walk, and was very, very nauseous. I could also not catch my breath. I sat down for a few minutes again in the lobby, trying to get control of myself (STILL thinking I had some kind of emotional issue going on).

      Someone came in while I was trying to get my breathing right, talking about drinking banana barium. That sent me running to the bathroom, where I threw up multiple times. A doctor came into the bathroom while I was there and was really worried. I told her I was on my way up to the chemo lab to get my port de-accessed. She'd already alerted them that I was coming before I managed to get there.

      Fortunately, we had taken my blood pressure and oxygen and stuff when they accessed my port so we knew what was normal ... and everything had gone bonkers. I can't remember if it went high or low (or both) ... but nothing was normal. They went into emergency mode, got me some benadryl and I had to sit there for several hours while they hydrated me, gave me intravenous drugs and watched me like a hawk! Naturally, I had gone for my scan alone so had no one to drive me home. They really wanted me to get my husband to come get me, but I'm so hardheaded that I drove myself home when they finally deemed I was stable enough to be let go.

      I have never, ever had an allergic reaction. This one literally nearly killed me. I had been getting the iodine every 6 weeks for years with no problems. There is something they can give you if you have a reaction, but my doctor just has orders to not give me iodine dye. The radiologist can just suck it up and read the scan without it rather than put me in harm's way again...

      Soooooooooooooooo.... with all of that said ... do you have the results of your scan yet? I know there's been some worry and I'm hoping that is resolving itself in a way that says there is no more worry!

      about 1 year ago

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