Ask the Doctor Question:
I am a CLL watch & wait patient for eight-years now, aged 80-years-old. I have developed a hip problem and have been offered an x-ray at my local hospital next Saturday. In view of the fact that x-rays use radiation, is it safe for a CLL patient to be subjected to this. Could the radiation aggravate the CLL to become aggressive?
Answer: It sounds like you are already aware that we recommend reducing radiation exposure over your lifetime as much as possible. Most of the increased exposure to radiation in the United States is due to CT scanning and nuclear imaging, which require larger radiation doses than traditional x-rays.
Typically, x-rays are only done when there is a strong suspicion of broken bones, versus the scenario of healthcare providers sometimes wanting to perform a CT scan on us “out of curiosity.” So, what we do want to avoid is performing tests out of curiosity and not because there is a diagnostic or clinical reason.
If you have a convincing reason for an x-ray, then go for it. It won’t aggravate anything.
Here are a few really good resources on radiation, although most are more specific to CT scans: