• Rationale and Comments

    Whole-body scanning with a variety of techniques (magnetic resonance imaging, single-photon emission computed tomography, positron emission tomography, CT) is marketed by some to screen for a wide range of undiagnosed cancers. However, there are no data suggesting that these imaging studies will improve survival or improve the likelihood of finding a tumor (estimated tumor detection is less than 2% in asymptomatic patients screened). Whole-body scanning has a risk of false-positive findings that can result in unnecessary testing and procedures with additional risks, including considerable exposure to radiation with positron emission tomography and CT, a very small increase in the possibility of developing cancer later in life, and accruing additional medical costs as a result of these procedures. Whole-body scanning is not recommended by medical professional societies for individuals without symptoms, nor is it a routinely practiced screening procedure in healthy populations.

    Sponsoring Organizations

    • American College of Preventive Medicine

    Sources

    • Expert consensus

    Disciplines

    • Oncologic
    • Preventive Medicine

    References

    • Ladd SC. Whole-body MRI as a screening tool? Eur J Radiol. 2009;70(3):452-62.
    • Schmidt G, Dinter D, Reiser MF, Schoenberg SO. The uses and limitations of whole-body magnetic resonance imaging. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2010;107(22):383-9.
    • Full-Body CT Scans – What You Need to Know, Radiation-Emitting Products. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [Internet]. Silver Spring, MD: U.S. Food and Drug Administration; 2010 [updated 2010 Apr 6; cited 2014 Dec 5]. Available from: http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-EmittingProducts/RadiationEmittingProductsandProcedures/MedicalImaging/MedicalX-Rays/ucm115340.htm.