Journal of Epidemiology
Online ISSN : 1349-9092
Print ISSN : 0917-5040
ISSN-L : 0917-5040
Review Article
A Comprehensive Review of the Progress and Evaluation of the Thyroid Ultrasound Examination Program, the Fukushima Health Management Survey
Hiroki ShimuraSatoru SuzukiSusumu YokoyaManabu IwadateSatoshi SuzukiTakashi MatsuzukaNoriko SetouTetsuya OhiraSeiji YasumuraShinichi SuzukiHitoshi OhtoKenji KamiyaThyroid Ultrasound Examination Group
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Supplementary material

2022 Volume 32 Issue Supplement_XII Pages S23-S35


The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent tsunami caused an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, in which extensive damage to the nuclear power reactors resulted in massive radioactive contamination. Fukushima Prefecture implemented the Thyroid Ultrasound Examination (TUE) program as part of the Fukushima Health Management Survey project in response to residents’ anxieties about health risks due to radiation exposure for residents aged 0–18 years at the time of the nuclear accident. This program consisted of the primary examination and the confirmatory examination. In the primary examination, thyroid nodules and cysts were examined using portable ultrasound apparatuses. The confirmatory examination was performed to have clinical or cytological diagnosis. As of June 30, 2021, 116, 71, 31, 36, and 9 examinees in the first, second, third, and fourth round of surveys, and the survey at age 25 years, respectively, were determined to have nodules cytologically diagnosed as malignant or suspicious for malignancy. The confirmatory examination of the fourth-round survey and the primary and confirmatory examination of fifth-round survey are currently in progress. Together with the low thyroid absorbed radiation dose estimated in the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation 2020 report, our results suggested that the increased incidence of childhood thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture was not caused by radiation exposure, but rather by the highly sensitive detection method. As detailed in this review, there were ongoing challenges in our program, such as actions against the risk of overdiagnosis and psychological support for participants and their families.

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© 2022 Hiroki Shimura et al.

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