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Child's Exposure to Radiation from Medical Imaging and the Risk of Childhood Leukemia: Pooled Analyses from the Childhood Leukemia International Consortium (CLIC)

University of California Berkeley
Catherine Metayer, MD/PhD & Steve Selvin, PhD
Grant Type: 
Epidemiology Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
Project Description: 


Ionizing radiation is a known cause of leukemia in children. However, the effects of ionizing radiation at lower doses are unknown. Medical imaging technology has undoubtedly advanced the field of medicine. However, there is concern of radiation exposure from medical imaging and its impact on the development of cancer in children, especially with the continuing increased use of CT scans in the past 30 years. CT scans not only represent the largest medical source of radiation, but also deliver higher doses than conventional x-rays. Children are vulnerable because they are known to be particularly sensitive to radiation exposures and will have a longer life expectancy where they may be subject to additional carcinogens.

Project Goal

We plan to examine whether exposures to low-dose ionizing radiation delivered from medical imaging (like x-rays and computerized tomography [CT] scans) increase the risk of childhood leukemia, pooling data from 15 childhood leukemia studies worldwide participating in the Childhood Leukemia International Consortium (CLIC). The CLIC studies participating in this project include approximately 12,660 children (age 0-14 years) diagnosed with leukemia and 18,960 controls, representing the largest study to date with comprehensive epidemiologic and radiation exposure data. This study will contribute important information on childhood leukemia risk associated with early-life exposures to medical imaging and findings will provide useful resources to weigh the risks and benefits of medical imaging and improve prevention of childhood leukemia.


"Researchers from the Childhood Leukemia International Consortium and the University of California, Berkeley will conduct the largest collaborative study to date to quantify the risk of childhood leukemia associated with medical radiation, e.g., x-rays and CT scans. This project will provide important information to the research, clinical, and patient communities in an effort to balance the benefits and risks of medical imaging." - UC Berkeley