Description: Apart from the dramatic increase in thyroid cancer in those exposed as children, there is no evidence to date of a major public health impact as a result of radiation exposure due to the Chernobyl accident in the three most affected countries (Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine). Although some increases in the frequency of cancer in exposed populations have been reported ,these results are difficult to interpret, mainly because of differences in the intensity and method of follow-up between exposed populations and the general population with which they are compared. If the experience of the survivors of the atomic bombing of Japan and of other exposed populations is applicable, the major radiological impact of the accident will be cases of cancer. The total lifetime numbers of excess cancers will be greatest among the `liquidators` (emergency and recovery workers) and among the residents of `contaminated` territories, of the order of 2000 to 2500 among each group (the size of the exposed populations is 200,000 liquidators and 3,700,000 residents of `contaminated` areas). These increases would be difficult to detect epidemiologically against an expected background number of 41500 and 433000 cases of cancer respectively among the two groups. The exposures for populations due to the Chernobyl accident are different in type and pattern from those of the survivors of the atomic bombing of Japan. Thus predictions derived from studies of these populations are uncertain. The extent of the incidence of thyroid cancer was not envisaged. Since only ten years have lapsed since the accident, continued monitoring of the health of the population is essential to assess the public health impact.
Date: July 1, 1996
Creator: Cardis, E.
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