Radiation Exposure and Thyroid Cancer Risk After the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident in Comparison with the Chernobyl Accident

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The actual implementation of the epidemiological study on human health risk from low dose and low-dose rate radiation exposure and the comprehensive long-term radiation health effects survey are important especially after radiological and nuclear accidents because of public fear and concern about the long-term health effects of low-dose radiation exposure have increased considerably. Since the Great East Japan earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in Japan, Fukushima Prefecture has started the Fukushima Health Management Survey Project for the purpose of long-term health care administration and medical early diagnosis/treatment for the prefectural residents. Especially on a basis of the lessons learned from the Chernobyl accident, both thyroid examination and mental health care are critically important irrespective of the level of radiation exposure. There are considerable differences between Chernobyl and Fukushima regarding radiation dose to the public, and it is very difficult to estimate retrospectively internal exposure dose from the short-lived radioactive iodines. Therefore, the necessity of thyroid ultrasound examination in Fukushima and the intermediate results of this survey targeting children will be reviewed and discussed in order to avoid any misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the high detection rate of childhood thyroid cancer.

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