Thyroid cancer found in 12 minors in Fukushima


An ongoing study on the impact of radiation on Fukushima residents from the crippled atomic power plant has found 12 minors with confirmed thyroid cancer diagnoses, up from three in a report in February, with 15 other suspected cases, up from seven, researchers announced Wednesday.

The figures were taken from about 174,000 people aged 18 or younger whose initial thyroid screening results have been confirmed.

Researchers at Fukushima Medical University, which has been taking the leading role in the study, have said they do not believe the most recent cases are related to the nuclear crisis.

They point out that thyroid cancer cases were not found among children hit by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident until four to five years later.

The prefecture’s thyroid screenings target 360,000 people who were aged 18 or younger when the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami triggered the meltdown crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The initial-phase checks looked at lumps and other possible thyroid cancer symptoms and categorized possible cases into four groups depending on the degree of seriousness. Those in the two most serious groups were picked for secondary exams.

In fiscal 2011, after confirming test results from about 40,000 minors, the prefecture sent 205 for secondary testing. Of the 205, seven were diagnosed with thyroid cancer, four came out with suspected cases, and another had surgery but the tumor was found to be benign.

In fiscal 2012, of about 134,000 minors with confirmed initial screening results, the prefecture sent 935 to secondary testing. Among them, five were confirmed with thyroid cancer, while there were 11 suspected cases.

In the Chernobyl catastrophe, thyroid cancer was reported in more than 6,000 children. The U.N. Scientific Committee attributed many of the cases to consumption of milk contaminated with radioactive iodine immediately after the crisis started.

Last month, U.N. scientists assessing the health impact of the Fukushima nuclear crisis said the radiation dose for residents in the region was much lower than Chernobyl and that they do not expect to see any increase in cancer in the future.

Among those aged 10 to 14 in Japan, thyroid cancer strikes about 1 to 2 in a million.

  • Masa Chekov

    I’ve had one close family member die as a child with thyroid cancer and another friend who had a difficult fight with it. It happens, unfortunately.

    It’s important to be clear about why there are many new cases of cancer. Health risks? Improved screenings? It seems from the number in this article that the number of cases is in line with previous years, which is good, but we need to be vigilant with detecting future cases.

    • Joe

      I am sorry, but how is the rate of “1 to 2 in a million” the same as the number of cases in Fukushima (12 out of 174,000)??!!

      • Bernd Bausch

        I doubt the 1-2 per million figure. In Germany, it’s around 50 (men) and 100 (women) per million; how can it be so different in Japan?
        Besides, according to the article, thyroid cancer in Chernobyl was only detected years after the accident, so that is indeed likely that these cases have other causes. Let’s review this in 2016.

      • Masa Chekov

        What is your ???!!!??? pointing to? Look at the 2011 numbers. These numbers would not be affected by the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi. These latest numbers are in line with those numbers – that is, the cancer incidence is the same now as before.

        I seriously doubt the 1-2 per million figure as well. Otherwise my friends and family are incredibly unlucky.

      • Starviking

        The latest estimates on Thyroid Cancer gives an incidence rate of around 0.6 per 100,000 for 15 to 19 year olds. It must be noted that this is from estimation from some municipal registries, as there is no national cancer registry in Japan, no much guidelines on treatment of many cancers, including that of the Thyroid.

        Ref: cancer incidence and incidence rates in Japan 2005 – T Matsuda et al.

        You also have to consider what effect the screening with advanced ultrasound is having – it’s probable that some cancers are being found that would have been found much later.

    • Magnus Edgren

      “we need to be vigilant with detecting future cases”

      Exactly, Chernobyl accident showed that it takes four to five years before thyroid cancer is detected. In other words, we will know more in 2020.

  • DoctorZin

    “Researchers at Fukushima Medical University, which has been taking the
    leading role in the study, have said they do not believe the most recent
    cases are related to the nuclear crisis.”

    So really, this has nothing to do with nuclear energy, but the sensational headline acts as a pretty nice piece of anti-nuke propaganda.

    How about the f’ing truth, from the World Health Organization?


  • nelsonsurjon

    The fact that no increases in thyroid cancers were noted up to 5 years after the facts is complete non sense and false. There was no official studies until about 1990 as Gorbatchev was forced by the international community to provide accurate medical data. Same cover up. Same response from people like you all. Let me ask you a question; as you all mentioned about waiting for more data in 2017 or 2020 or whenever…. what happens to the children in the mean time? Isnt this “wait and see” attitude defines that these children are Guinea pigs? Do you have your children living in divisidons? Will you face the parents then and apologize for your ignorance?