To facilitate the justification of an X-ray or nuclear medicine investigation and for informing patients, it is desirable that the individual patient's radiation dose and potential cancer risk can be prospectively assessed and documented. The current dose-reporting is based on effective dose, which ignores body size and does not reflect the strong dependence of risk on the age at exposure. Risk estimations should better be done through individual organ dose assessments, which need careful exposure characterisation as well as anatomical description of the individual patient. In nuclear medicine, reference biokinetic models should also be replaced with models describing individual physiological states and biokinetics. There is a need to adjust population-based cancer risk estimates to the possible risk of leukaemia and solid tumours for the individual depending on age and gender. The article summarises reasons for individual cancer risk estimates and gives examples of methods and results of such estimates.