Cancer Risk: Avoid CT Scan In Case Of Mild COVID Symptoms, Warns AIIMS Chief

New Delhi: Just like there is misuse of oxygen and drugs like Remdesivir amid the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic in India, some medical tests are also best avoided.


Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should not be going for a CT scan.

Warning against the misuse of CT scans and biomarkers by patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Monday that it increases exposure to radiation which escalates the risk of cancer.

One CT scan, he pointed out, is equivalent to 300-400 chest X-rays

“No point in conducting CT scans for mild cases; one may find patches in CT scan even if he/she is asymptomatic but may get cured easily 1 #CTScan = 300-400 Chest X-rays! With frequent CTs, risk of cancer in later life increases, for youngsters,” Guleria warned.

He added that data provided by the international atomic energy commission for radiation protection and medicine have shown an increased risk of cancer some years down the line due to frequent CT scans, especially if done at a young age.

Stressing on the point that CT scan is not required for patients with mild symptoms, Guleria said, “A lot of people are getting CT scans done and deems it important to get CT scans done if their COVID tests turn out to be positive,” he said.

To drive home his point, Dr Guleria cited a study which showed that patches were detected in CT scans of 30-40 per cent of asymptomatic COVID patients, which got cleared without any treatment. So in case of mild infection, home isolation should suffice. If there’s no problem or decline in saturation, there is no use doing a CT scan as some patches will appear.

He also said that biomarkers like CRP, D-Dimer, LDH, Ferritin etc are also not of any use in case of mild symptoms and normal saturation levels as it only leads to panic reactions. “All these biomarkers are acute phase reactants, which means if there is any kind of inflammation in the body these markers will soar. If you get acne or zit, injury, infection in your teeth then also these biomarkers will increase because it’s your body’s inflammatory response. So, it fails to accurately show if the viral disease has increased,” the AIIMS chief said.

“Do biomarkers only when you have moderate illness and on the advice of your doctor,” Guleria advised.

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