” Eleven people in Fukushima Prefecture aged 18 or younger at the time of the 2011 triple meltdown were recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 115 since the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Of the 11 new patients diagnosed, who were diagnosed between July and September, two were already suspected of having the disease in the first round of checks that concluded at the end of March last year, the prefectural government announced Nov. 30.
The other nine were identified as suspected cases in the second round of checks, which began in April 2014.
Their diagnoses were established during surgery where thyroid cancer was confirmed.
The Fukushima prefectural government has been conducting health checks on about 380,000 residents who were 18 or younger at the time of the nuclear disaster. The screening was conducted to detect thyroid cancer since young people are susceptible to the disease.
The number of patients with suspected or confirmed cases totaled 114 in the first round of screening, and 39 in the second round, for a total of 153.
Of the 39 suspected or confirmed cases that were reported during the second round, two patients were found to have a tubercle growth during the first round of screening. Doctors believe the lumps then become cancerous.
Of the 39, 19 were cleared during the first round of screening, but apparently developed cancer afterward.
Hokuto Hoshi, who chairs a panel with the prefectural survey, downplayed the possibility that fallout from the Fukushima disaster is the culprit behind the incidences of thyroid cancer among young people.
“As far as our data shows, the estimated internal doses of radiation of Fukushima residents for thyroid glands are lower than those of residents around the Chernobyl nuclear plant,” Hoshi said. “It is unlikely that radiation is responsible for the recently reported thyroid cancer cases, given that there are no reports of cancer among infants, who are particularly susceptible to radiation.”
The prefecture’s screening for thyroid cancer began in autumn 2011 based on findings that thyroid cancer cases increased among children in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl accident in what is now Ukraine. ”