Radiation Treatment Turns Thyroid Cancer Patients Into ‘Dirty Bombs’

Here are the effects of the Fukushima iodine-131 ‘treatment’:

Study: 28% Increase In Thyroid Problems In Babies Born After Fukushima in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington

Over 44% Of Fukushima Children Have Thyroid Abnormalities

Seven More Fukushima Children Suspected To Have Thyroid Cancer

WHO: Fukushima Workers Had Over 10 SIEVERTS Thyroid Dose

‘Many People From Even Tokyo Have Thyroid Problems Already’

Fukushima: More Then 42% of Children Have Thyroid Nodules Or Cysts (German TV Video, Nov 18, 2012):

More than 42% of 57,000 tested children have nodules or cyst, reports Dr. Suzuki who leads the examinations. In Chernobyl they found only 0.1 – 1%.

And maybe some more information on the other ‘successful’ cancer treatments:

75% of physicians in the world refuse chemotherapy for themselves

US Scientists Find That Chemotherapy Boosts Cancer Growth

Chemotherapy Backfires Causes Healthy Cells To Feed Growth Of Cancer Tumors

Chemotherapy And Radiotherapy Make Cancer More Malignant (Video)

Alternative medicine cures cancer:

The Gerson therapy for example has an overall CURE rate of  95% for cancer and a 50% cure rate for terminal ill cancer patients.


After Radiation Treatment Thyroid Cancer Patients Dangerously Radioactive (Huffington Post, Oct 20, 2010):

WASHINGTON — Reports of thyroid cancer patients setting off radiation alarms and contaminating hotel rooms are prompting the agency in charge of nuclear safety to consider tighter rules.

A congressional investigation made public Wednesday found that patients sent home after treatment with radioactive iodine have contaminated unsuspecting hotel guests and set off alarms on public transportation.

They’ve come into close contact with vulnerable people, including pregnant women and children, and trash from their homes has triggered radiation detectors at landfills.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering new rules to address the problem, in particular curbs on sending patients to hotels after treatment, a spokesman said Wednesday.

“The assumption was that patients would be going home,” said David McIntyre. “Now that we see there are some who are not, we are developing new guidance.” It’s unclear whether the radiation exposure occurs at levels high enough to cause harm.

The agency is also looking to make sure that risks of exposing pregnant women and children are more clearly communicated to patients, McIntyre said, after a commission meeting on the issue.

Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., says the problem stems from a decision years ago by the NRC to ease requirements that thyroid cancer patients remain in the hospital a few days after swallowing doses of radioactive iodine to shrink their tumors.

“There is a strong likelihood that members of the public have been unwittingly exposed to radiation from patients,” Markey wrote in a letter to the NRC that details findings by investigators on his staff. “This has occurred because of weak NRC regulations, ineffective oversight of those who administer these medical treatments, and the absence of clear guidance to patients and to physicians.”

About 40,000 people a year develop thyroid cancer, which generally responds well to treatment. Certain types are treated by swallowing radioactive iodine, or iodine-131. It concentrates in the thyroid, but small amounts are excreted through urine, saliva and sweat.

People given high doses may be kept in the hospital, but many patients are sent home with instructions on how to minimize exposure to others over the next few days. Most of the radiation is gone in about a week, says the National Cancer Institute’s website for patients.

Traditionally such patients were kept in the hospital, but treatment has now shifted to less costly outpatient facilities. Patients sent home are supposed to follow specific precautions, such as sleeping alone in their beds and not giving hugs and kisses to young children. Markey’s investigation indicates that’s where the breakdown is occurring.

Staffers on the House Energy and Environment subcommittee that Markey chairs sent detailed questionnaires to states that enforce the NRC rules and conducted an online survey of more than 1,000 thyroid cancer patients.

The investigation found that:

_ A patient who had received a dose of radioactive iodine boarded a bus in New York the same day, triggering radiation detectors as the bus passed through the Lincoln Tunnel heading for Atlantic City, N.J., a casino Mecca. After New Jersey state police found the bus and pulled it over, officers determined that the patient had received medical instructions to avoid public transportation for two days, and ignored them. The 2003 case highlighted that NRC rules don’t require patients to stay off public transportation.

_ About 7 percent of outpatients said in the survey they had gone directly to a hotel after their treatment, most of them with their doctors’ knowledge. Hotel stays are a particular concern, since the patient can expose other guests and service workers. In 2007, an Illinois hotel was contaminated after linens from a patient’s room were washed together with other bedding. The incident would probably have gone unreported but for nuclear plant workers who later stayed in the same hotel and set off radiation alarms when they reported to work.

_ About one-fourth of outpatients said in the survey they never discussed with their doctors how to avoid exposing pregnant women and children to radiation. The survey found 56 cases in which a patient shared a bathroom or bedroom with a pregnant woman or a child, or had other close contact, which is strongly discouraged in medical guidelines.

_ At least two states – Maryland and Massachusetts – said they had encountered problems with household trash from the homes of patients treated with radioactive iodine. Garbage trucks set off radiation alarms at landfills, requiring loads to be unpacked and examined, exposing sanitation workers to a range of hazards.

Markey urged the agency to revise its rules so that more patients are kept in the hospital. Patient advocates say insurance companies routinely refuse to pay for a hospital room because it’s not required. He’s also calling for a ban on letting patients take public transportation after treatment with radioactive iodine.

Are Radioactive Thyroid Patients a Public Health Hazard? Congress Tackles the Risk of “Drive-Thru Radiation” (About.com, Oct 26, 2010):

Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey calls it “drive-thru radiation.” And tabloid headlines refer to patients as “human dirty bombs.” They are referring to the common practice in the United States of giving radioactive treatments — in particular, radioactive iodine for thyroid cancer — and then releasing patients, who can remain measurably “radioactive” for as long as a week or more. In Europe, most patients receiving radioactive treatments stay at the hospital in protected areas to avoid contaminating others. But in the U.S., since 1997, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not required that patients be quarantined after radioactive treatments. (It’s thought that this move may have been primarily for cost reasons, supported by insurers and HMOs who want to avoid the additional costs involved with hospital quarantine for patients having radioactive iodine treatment.)Voluntary guidelines suggest that after radioactive treatment, patients avoid close proximity to others, sleep alone for a week, and avoid close proximity (i.e., hugs) with infants and children, and avoid pregnant women. And yet, these guidelines are not being followed, and many of these patients, while still “radioactive” so to speak, end up in public, riding public transportation, or, to avoid exposing their own families, frequently stay in hotel rooms which then become contaminated by radiation.

According to some scientists, even the second-hand exposure to someone who has has had a radioactive medical treatment can provide a single dose of radiation that exceeds the typical annual dose from all sources received by a typical American, and may be as much as four times higher than the level considered safe for a pregnant woman.

This is not a new issue, and we’ve been talking about it for years actually. Back in 2006, I blogged, Radioactive Treatments Can Trigger Airport Security…Even Weeks After Treatment, and in 2007, USA Today did a series that I profiled: Radioactive Iodine (RAI) Treatment for Thyroid Disease: Is Secondhand Exposure Safe?.

In 2008, I reported on the “New Guidelines Issued to Protect Babies and Children from Thyroid Patients Receiving Radioactive Iodine.” These guidelines were released by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and recommended back then that the procedures to protect infants and young children from radiation exposure be strengthened.

In Rep. Markey’s Congressional investigation, a number of problems were identified, including patients who set off radiation detectors at airports and in tunnels, rode public buses, shared a bathroom and/or bedroom with a pregnant woman or child, and their house trash has triggered radiation detectors at landfills. Hotels are a particular concern, because, according to the report, 7 percent of the patients surveyed had radioactive iodine treatment, and then checked in to a hotel “where they contaminate sheets, bedspreads, and other common room surfaces and could also potentially expose pregnant hotel workers or children of guests – who are the most susceptible for developing cancer as a result of radiation exposure. In 2007, a patient was discovered to have contaminated two individuals as well as the sheets and towels used in almost an entire hotel in Illinois.”

According to Rep. Markey’s statement, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is ignoring the problem. “My investigation has led me to conclude that the levels of unintentional radiation received by members of the public who have been exposed to patients that have received ‘drive through’ radiation treatments may well exceed international safe levels established for pregnant women and children…This has occurred because of weak NRC regulations, ineffective oversight of those who administer these medical treatments, and the absence of clear guidance to patients and to physicians.”

You can read Rep. Markey’s letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission here in PDF format.

While the specific risk from exposure is not clear, hopefully, this new investigation will propose some better solutions. It’s hard enough for patients to deal with the stress of thyroid cancer and its treatment — but to be considered a public health hazard, or referred to as “human dirty bombs” — when they have no other options — seems to be an additional and unfair burden on patients. At the same time, the public needs to be protected.

Alarms over radiation from thyroid cancer patients (Ap, Oct 20, 2010):

Cancer patients sent home after treatment with radioactive iodine have contaminated hotel rooms and set off alarms on public transportation, a congressional investigation has found.

NRC websiteNuclear medicine is overseen by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

They’ve come into close contact with vulnerable people, including pregnant women and children, and the household trash from their homes has triggered radiation detectors at landfills.

Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., says the problem stems from a decision years ago by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to ease requirements that thyroid cancer patients remain in the hospital a few days after swallowing doses of radioactive iodine to shrink their tumors.

“There is a strong likelihood that members of the public have been unwittingly exposed to radiation from patients,” Markey wrote Wednesday in a letter to the NRC that details findings by his staff. “This has occurred because of weak NRC regulations, ineffective oversight of those who administer these medical treatments, and the absence of clear guidance to patients and to physicians.”

The letter coincides with an NRC meeting Wednesday to examine the issue. It’s unclear whether the radiation exposure occurs at levels high enough to cause harm.

About 40,000 people a year develop thyroid cancer, which generally responds well to treatment. Certain types are treated by swallowing radioactive iodine, or iodine-131. It concentrates in the thyroid, but small amounts are excreted through urine, saliva and sweat.

People given high doses may be kept in the hospital, but many patients are sent home with instructions on how to minimize exposure to others over the next few days. Most of the radiation is gone in about a week, says the National Cancer Institute’s website for patients.

Traditionally such patients were kept in the hospital, but treatment has now shifted to less costly outpatient facilities. Patients sent home are supposed to follow specific precautions, such as sleeping alone in their beds and not giving hugs and kisses to young children. Markey’s investigation indicates that’s where the breakdown is occurring.

Staffers on the House Energy and Environment subcommittee that Markey chairs sent detailed questionnaires to states that enforce the NRC rules and conducted an online survey of more than 1,000 thyroid cancer patients.

The investigation found that:

— A patient who had received a dose of radioactive iodine boarded a bus in New York the same day, triggering radiation detectors as the bus passed through the Lincoln Tunnel heading for Atlantic City, N.J., a casino Mecca. After New Jersey state police found the bus and pulled it over, officers determined that the patient had received medical instructions to avoid public transportation for two days, and ignored them. The 2003 case highlighted that NRC rules don’t require patients to stay off public transportation.

— About 7 percent of outpatients said in the survey they had gone directly to a hotel after their treatment, most of them with their doctors’ knowledge. Hotel stays are a particular concern, since the patient can expose other guests and service workers. In 2007, an Illinois hotel was contaminated after linens from a patient’s room were washed together with other bedding. The incident would probably have gone unreported but for nuclear plant workers who later stayed in the same hotel and set off radiation alarms when they reported to work.

— About one-fourth of outpatients said in the survey they never discussed with their doctors how to avoid exposing pregnant women and children to radiation. The survey found 56 cases in which a patient shared a bathroom or bedroom with a pregnant woman or a child, or had other close contact, which is strongly discouraged in medical guidelines.

— At least two states — Maryland and Massachusetts — said they had encountered problems with household trash from the homes of patients treated with radioactive iodine. Garbage trucks set off radiation alarms at landfills, requiring loads to be unpacked and examined, exposing sanitation workers to a range of hazards.

Markey scolded the NRC for its previous assurances that current regulations are adequate to protect the public. “It is difficult to conclude based on the survey results that this belief is justified,” he wrote.

The congressman urged the agency to revise its rules so that more patients are kept in the hospital. Patient advocates say insurance companies routinely refuse to pay for a hospital room because it’s not required.

Markey also urged a ban on releasing patients to hotels and letting them take public transportation. And he called for tighter government oversight of medical facilities that provide treatment with radioactive iodine.

 

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