American College of Preventive Medicine

View all recommendations from this society

Released February 25, 2015

Don’t use whole-body scans for early tumor detection in asymptomatic patients.

Whole-body scanning with a variety of techniques (MRI, SPECT, PET, CT) is marketed by some to screen for a wide range of undiagnosed cancers. However, there is 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 PET 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.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) Prevention Practice Committee (PPC), responsible for practice guidelines and statements from the College, created a Choosing Wisely task force to lead the development of these recommendations. Task force members consist of select PPC members and additional ACPM members solicited through ACPM’s bi-weekly e-newsletter, Headlines. Each task force member individually developed 2-3 recommendations and the top ten were selected using an electronic survey by the entire task force. Subsequently, the ten recommendations were prioritized by the task force and rationales with references were produced. These recommendations were presented to the entire PPC for consideration and prioritization of the top five. The top recommendations were selected and rationales revised and presented to the ACPM Board of Regents for final approval.

ACPM’s disclosure and COI procedures can be found at www.acpm.org.

Sources

Ladd SC. Whole-body MRI as a screening tool? Eur J Radiol. 2009 Jun;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 Jun;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 Sprin (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