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Scientists warn FDA about CT scans


CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly stated MRI machines emit radiation. They do not. The transcript below has been corrected.


TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Early detection of diseases has made CT scans more popular with doctors than ever. Americans are also exposed to a lot more radiation as a result. Today, the Food and Drug Administration will hold a hearing where its own scientists will urge the agency to be more careful about the scanning devices it approves. From our health desk at WHYY in Philadelphia, Gregory Warner reports.


Gregory Warner: A decade of research has shown that just owning a CT scan makes doctors more likely to use them.

Dr. David Levin is former chairman of radiology at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia:

David Levin: The cost of those machines is somewhere between $1 [million] and $2 million. And you have to do a lot of scans to cover those costs.

At today's hearing, FDA scientists are expected to testify that their warnings about radiation risks from devices were ignored by the agency. Studies show that thousands of people die a year from radiation-induced cancer from these devices.

Jim Hitchin's company, SpectraScience, makes a device that detects colon cancer without using radiation. He says, though, it's not just doctors driving up the imaging tests -- ot's patients wanting answers.

Jim Hitchins: You know, we all want to live forever. At least most of us do.

The FDA hearing is part of a larger move by the agency to re-evaluate its approval process for all medical devices.

In Philadelphia, I'm Gregory Warner for Marketplace.

About the author

Gregory Warner is a senior reporter covering the economics and business of healthcare for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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