Chernobyl accident continues to provide scientists with unique opportunities for research. One of the major health impacts identified in the victims of Chernobyl accident is the greater incidence of over 6,000 thyroid cancers. Thyroid cancer is curable. Fifteen of those cancer patients died. Thyroid tissues of the radio-iodine exposed cancer patients are preserved.
That radiation exposure at high levels will cause cancer in some of the exposed individuals is an accepted fact. At low doses the cancer-inducing evidence of radiation is not undoubtedly proved. Also, currently there is no way to find out whether a particular cancer is due to radiation or not. This may change, if the recent findings on chromosome 7 from the thyroid tissues of cancer patients prove to be true.
The number of copies of a small fragment of chromosome 7 was found to be increased only in the tumours from the irradiated children, establishing this as one of the first genetic markers that indicate a radiation aetiology of cancer. The results of the study are published in one of the the forthcoming issues of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). A news story on the study can be accessed at the following url:
We know that the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), Japan has set up a tissue bank to preserve samples of tissues of A-bomb survivors. It will be very interesting to see whether such gene markers could be identified in cancer patients from among the A-bomb survivors