A Fukushima Prefectural Government panel said Wednesday that two people who were 18 or younger when the triple-meltdown crisis started at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic complex in March 2011 have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, bringing the total cases to three.

Reporting at a meeting on the health impact from the catastrophe, professor Shinichi Suzuki of Fukushima Medical University said it is too early to link the cases to the nuclear disaster, because it took at least four to five years for thyroid cancer to be detected after the Chernobyl meltdown calamity that started in 1986.

The three people have been doing well since undergoing surgery, according to Suzuki.

Radioactive iodine released in fallout tends to accumulate in thyroid glands, particularly in young people. In the Chernobyl disaster, a noticeable increase in thyroid cancer cases was detected among children in the affected area.

Local authorities in Fukushima Prefecture are examining the thyroid glands of those who were under 18, who numbered around 360,000, at the time the nuclear crisis started to check if they have been affected by the radiation.

Of the 360,000, around 38,000 were checked in fiscal 2011, and 10, including the three thyroid cancer cases, are believed to be suffering some form of cancer. The average age of the 10 is around 15, and seven are female.

The remaining seven are undergoing medical examinations at the university.