May 4, 2012

Fukushima Children’s Thyroid Examination: How Shunichi Yamashita would like doctors to deal with the results.


This is a letter sent from Shunichi Yamashita, M.D., from Fukushima Medical University to the members of Japan Thyroid Association, of which he is the president.  The letter “asks” or rather “instructs” the members, who are likely to be the thyroid specialists, on how to deal with the thyroid ultrasound results of Fukushima children.  Fukushima Medical University seems to have established a unique guideline for interpretation of abnormal ultrasound findings.  

An Australian pediatrician, Helen Caldicott, who has been against the use of nuclear weapons and power as a way of practicing preventive medicine, stated that all nodules and cysts in children should be immediately biopsied to rule out malignancy, instead of waiting to be followed up in two years.  Out of 38,114 children tested so far 13,766 or 36.1% had either nodules or cysts.  Of these 186 required the  second-stage examination.  She also stated that an early appearance of thyroid abnormalities, less than one year, meant the children received a very high dose of radiation.

(Caldicott received her medical degree in 1961 from the University of Adelaide Medical School.  In 1977 she joined the staff of the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston, and taught pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School from 1977 to 1978.)

Although Shinichi Suzuki, M.D., insisted that these ultrasound findings are “mostly normal” and commonly found in children, the study co-authored by Shunichi Yamashita, M.D., in 2001 revealed that normal children in Nagasaki had 0% nodules and 0.8% cysts on ultrasound.

Furthermore, research done in Gomel, Belarus showed that the rate of thyroid nodules in children 5 to 10 years after the Chernobyl accident was 1.74%.  The results in Fukushima are merely one year after the accident.  This is a much faster progression compared to Chernobyl.
According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, this means the Fukushima children received very high doses of radiation.  She says it is not at all normal for children to have thyroid nodules or cysts.

Shunichi Yamashita’s Letter

Dear Japan Thyroid Association members,

Fukushima prefecture is carrying out “Prefectural Resident Health Management Survey” for all residents for the purpose of long-term health management as part of the “health watch” project, in the face of radioactive contamination due to Tokyo Electric Company Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, which happened along with the Great East Japan Earthquake.
As part of this survey, we have begun the ultrasound examination of thyroid gland in all prefectural residents ages 0 to 18 at the time of the accident.  (Please refer to the explanation for the residents.)

So far, because we have carried out the examination on weekends and holidays at Fukushima Medical University Hospital since October 2011 and on weekdays at the outside areas since mid-November,  the first-stage examination has already been done on over 15,000 residents.

At this time, the examination results are to be mailed to the residents after consultation with special committees in and outside the Medical University.  We are contacting the supporting association members to ask for understanding of how to deal with these results.

In the first-stage ultrasound examination, we have defined what needs the second-stage examination as nodules over 5.1 mm and cysts (non-solid but colloidal or liquid collection only) over 20.1 mm.  Thus, in addition to those with no abnormal findings, those with nodules smaller than 5 mm or cysts smaller than 20 mm have been decided not to be the subjects of further testing such as biopsies, or treatments.  We would imagine that you might receive a few inquiries or consultations from parents regarding these results.  Please explain to them well to make sure they understand that any further testing is not necessary before the next examination
unless symptoms appear.

Also, this examination will be carried out every two years until age 20 and every five years from then on, leading to a long-term thyroid examination project.  Coordination with base hospitals all over the nation will be essential, and the examination will be widely publicized to the residents from now on.

Your continued understanding and cooperation towards this examination will be appreciated.

January 16, 2012

Shunichi Yamashita, M.D.
Fukushima Medical University Radiological Resident Health Management Center Chief

Shinichi Suzuki、M.D,
Fukushima Medical University Radiological Resident Health Management Center
Clinical Department Vice Chair (in charge of thyroid examination)


  1. Why does it take an Australian to tell the people of Japan how to look after their children - Shameful

  2. It is incredible that this "Dr" is in charge. He is shameless. Why is he acting as though he is the star and essentially ignores all prior science from Chernobyl, Bikini Islands, the Nevada test sites etc have no bearing on the Fukushima radiation releases? He ought be removed and even jailed for his failure and willful negligence in protecting the safety and health of Japan's people, and the world, for that matter. He is way in over his head.

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  4. I agree with Anonymous - why does it take an Australian to tell Japan this shameful news? What the hell is the Japanese Govt doing for its people? Throughout this saga they have sat on their hands, basically done nothing and now want to continue using the nuclear reactors. It's madness.