In a private children’s hospital well away from the no-go zone, parents are holding on tight to their little sons and daughters, hoping doctors will not find what they are looking for – thyroid cancer.
Tests commissioned by the local authorities have discerned an alarming spike in the incidence of thyroid cancer in Fukushima children. Out of 200,000 children screened so far in government-ordered tests, there are 18 confirmed cases of thyroid cancer and 25 suspected cases. While specialists and experts are reluctant to draw a definitive link between the tumours and the nuclear radiation that erupted from the stricken power station, they are nonetheless deeply concerned.
Former thyroid surgeon, Akira Sugenoya says the spike in numbers should be taken seriously. He knows the devastation radiation can have after spending five years operating on hundreds of Chernobyl children suffering from thyroid cancer. But Professor Geraldine Thomas, a specialist in the molecular pathology of cancer in Imperial College London, says the fears are unfounded and have driven Japanese mothers to make unnecessary choices, including abortions.
It is not just the children who are a cause for concern. Farmer Kazuya Tarukawa worries that his crops have been contaminated and fears the radiation effects will be passed down the food chain. His crops may have passed the government’s radioactive safety limits but Tarukawa’s conscience is burning. He believes the government’s safety limits are inaccurate.
Read more at Japan: The next wave