New data has been released from the government study of thyroid abnormalities and cancer in Fukushima children. Of those screened 59 have been found to have tumors. 27 of those have had surgery to remove the tumor. One was found to be benign and 26 were classified as papillary cancers. It was not clear what the status of the remaining number of children is at this point. The survey also does not mention the exact size of each tumor at the time of removal or if any metastasized to lymph nodes. This could indicate severity and the potential for further problems.
The government has cited efforts to screen children in other parts of Japan as supporting their claim that these cancers are normal in the population or are due to increased screening. There are many problems with these efforts as any data on actual thyroid cancers in these other populations are not mentioned. Fukushima Voice describes the problem as this:
“If these cancer cases were indeed screening effects, similar malignancy would have to be expected in other parts of Japan. As for the thyroid survey conducted by the Ministry of Environment in Aomori, Yamanashi and Nagasaki Prefectures, widely recognized as a comparison study, no cancer data is available from the cases of thyroid ultrasound abnormalities detected. Also it is not age- and gender-matched, and there is a question about the possibly uneven quality of ultrasound examination itself between the two studies. The MOE spokesperson indicated that abnormal cases are undergoing further examination, and more data might become available for comparison.”
We have mentioned before that the participation in the government health surveys is quite low. This number of 59 tumors only represents the small percentage of Fukushima children who have participated in the government health screening. This does not include the larger number of children who have sought out private screenings or medical care or opted to not be screened. This makes the 59 cases only part of a potential much larger total.
According to Japanese health data from before the Fukushima disaster the thyroid cancer rates for children are:
Age 0-4 = 0 per 100,000 people (male and female combined)
Age 5-9 = 0 per 100,000 people (male and female combined)
Age 10-14 = 0.2 per 100,000 people (male and female combined)
Age 15-19 = 1.3 per 100,000 people (male and female combined)
The health survey examined 289,960 children total. 58 of those screened have cancer or are assumed to have cancer and are awaiting surgery.
This becomes 1 cancer per 4999 people. This is far higher than the pre-disaster levels. This raises big questions about the claims that these are increased just due to more screening. The more these numbers grow the harder it is to dismiss the findings are some version of normal.
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