For almost 10 years now, Fukushima Medical University has been regularly examining the thyroid glands of people who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the meltdowns and were under 18 years of age. Initially, this group consisted of about 368,000 individuals. Of these, 300,000 (about 82%) were successfully screened in the first few years. After the initial screening (2011-2014), follow-up examinations of these children took place every two years. The second examination has already been completed, the third examination is in its final stage, the fourth series of examinations has been running since 2018, and the fifth since 2020. In the initial investigation in Fukushima, 116 abnormal biopsies were found. Amongst these, 101 cases of cancers were found that were so aggressive that they required surgery. The patients with abnormal biopsies were 6 to 18 years old (average of 14.9 years) at the time of the nuclear disaster. This unexpectedly high number was explained by Fukushima Medical University as a screening effect, the phenomenon of identifying more cases of disease in large-scale screening than would be expected. While the exact magnitude of this screening effect in the first round is unknown, it can be ruled out that the increased cancer rates in subsequent screenings are consequences of a screening effect, because all of these children had already been examined and found to be cancer-free in previous screenings. They must therefore have developed the cancer between the screening examinations.
Beyond Nuclear 23rd May 2021 read more »