At least 16 children confirmed to have thyroid cancer in second Fukushima survey

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 February, 2016, 10:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 February, 2016, 10:37pm

In a survey that began in April 2014 to check the impact of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis, 16 children have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and 35 are suspected of having the disease, a prefectural government panel said on Monday.

Most of them were thought to be problem free when their thyroid glands were checked during the first round of the survey conducted over a three-year period through March 2014.

It covered about 300,000 children who were under the age 18 and living in the northeastern Japan prefecture when the nuclear plant disaster occurred in March 2011, in the wake of a huge earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

The number of children diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the second round was up from 15, and the number of suspected cases up from 24, as reported at the previous panel meeting in November.

Hokuto Hoshi, head of the panel and a senior member of the Fukushima Medical Association, maintained his earlier view of the correlation between the cancer figures and radiation, saying based on expertise acquired so far, it is “unlikely” that the disease was caused by radiation exposure.

When the results of the first and the ongoing second round of the heath survey are combined, the number of children diagnosed with thyroid cancer totals 116 and 50 are suspected of having it.

According to the Fukushima Medical University and other entities involved in the health checks, the 51 children in the second round of the survey either confirmed or suspected to have thyroid cancer were age 6 to 18 at the time of the triple reactor meltdown and the sizes of their tumours ranged from 5.3 millimetres to 30.1mm.

The examiners were able to estimate how much external exposure 29 of those children had over the four months immediately after the catastrophe, with the maximum being 2.1 millisieverts. Ten children were exposed to less than 1 millisievert.