A recent study published in an early electronic version of Cancer a publication of The American Cancer Society, links dental x-ray exposure to brain tumors, specifically meningioma.
Whenever a story like this breaks, most people's first reaction is to panic without investigating further. This is an issue dentists have always had to discuss with patients.
There are guidelines in place to ensure that patient exposure to x-ray radiation is kept to a minimum and only when necessary for diagnosis and treatment. Remember the ALARA Principle? However, this doesn't prevent the fact that many of you have already experienced the questions about safety and risk from you patients and have had to explain the nature of the study.
From the article abstract, the population-based case-control study included 1,433 patients who had intracranial meningioma diagnosed at ages 20 to 79 years. The main finding receiving the bulk of the attention is exposure to some dental x-rays performed in the past – when radiation exposure was greater than today – suggests an increased risk of intracranial meningioma.
What are your thoughts? I find the “self reporting” aspect of the dental x-ray history contained in this study troubling and quite possibly irresponsible. Did they ask about other types of x-rays? What about other forms of radiation exposure such as airplane travel, cell phone use, or even proximity to high tension power lines?
Have you had patients asking you about the study? Radiation exposure? Brain tumors? What has been your response? Let us know in the comments area below.