Ultrasonography survey and thyroid cancer in the Fukushima Prefecture

Radiation and Environmental Biophysics
May 2014, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 391-401,

Peter Jacob, Jan Christian Kaiser, Alexander Ulanovsky

Thyroid cancer is one of the major health concerns after the accident in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station (NPS). Currently, ultrasonography surveys are being performed for persons residing in the Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the accident with an age of up to 18 years. Here, the expected thyroid cancer prevalence in the Fukushima Prefecture is assessed based on an ultrasonography survey of Ukrainians, who were exposed at an age of up to 18 years to 131I released during the Chernobyl NPS accident, and on differences in equipment and study protocol in the two surveys. Radiation risk of thyroid cancer incidence among survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and preliminary estimates of thyroid dose due to the Fukushima accident were used for the prediction of baseline and radiation-related thyroid cancer risks. We estimate a prevalence of thyroid cancer of 0.027 % (95 % CI 0.010 %; 0.050 %) for the first screening campaign in the Fukushima Prefecture. Compared with the incidence rate in Japan in 2007, the ultrasonography survey is predicted to increase baseline thyroid cancer incidence by a factor of 7.4 (95 % CI 0.95; 17.3). Under the condition of continued screening, thyroid cancer during the first fifty years after the accident is predicted to be detected for about 2 % of the screened population. The prediction of radiation-related thyroid cancer in the most exposed fraction (a few ten thousand persons) of the screened population of the Fukushima Prefecture has a large uncertainty with the best estimates of the average risk of 0.1–0.3 %, depending on average dose.