Medical Support around Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site

Since 29 August, 1949, total of 459 nuclear explosions were officially conducted by the USSR until October 19, 1989 at the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site (SNTS), which locates in the North-West part of Kazakhstan. Several hundred thousand people residing in the East Kazakhstan region were repeatedly exposed to various doses of radioactive fallout.
Since 1995, we have been working around Semipalatinsk and have developed a special joint research project to further evaluate such molecular analysis using thyroid cancer tissue samples, besides their own data on excess cancer incidence. In 1998, we reported the high frequency of thyroid abnormalities around SNTS1, and in 1999, we firstly reported the frequency of ret/PTC rearrangement in patients with thyroid papillary carcinoma around SNTS 2.
For the purpose of further collaboration of our research work in Semipalatinsk, in 1998, we established the sister university relationship between Nagasaki University and Semipalatinsk Medical Academy, which is in charge of the radiation victims’ medical care around SNTS. In 1998, Professor Ikeda (Rector) and Professor Yamashita received the “Semipalatinsk Honorary Doctor’s Degree” at the 45th. Anniversary of Semipalatinsk Medical Academy. Since 1999, we accept a postgraduate student from Semipalatinsk Medical Academy.
On 29 August 1999, the 50th anniversary since the 1st. nuclear explosion in SNTS, we established the telemedicine system between Semipalatinsk Medical Academy and Nagasaki University School of Medicine. This system was financially supported by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. In this system, pathological images, as well as ultrasound images are digitized and transferred through Inmarsat B satellite communication system.
Besides the field study with Semipalatinsk Medical Academy, we will start the collaboration work with Institute of Medico-Ecological between Institute of Regional Medico-Ecological Problems (IRMEP), Barnaul, Russia, where had been also contaminated by the fall-out from SNTS.
  1. Takamura N, Yamashita S, Namba H, Alipov G, Ito M, Sekine I, Espenbetova M, Raisov T, Gusev B; Need for investigation of thyroid disease around Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site, Kazakhstan. Thyroid 8:635-6, 1998
  2. Alipov G, Ito M, Prouglo Y, Takamura N, Yamashita S; Ret/PTC Rearrangement in Thyroid Cancer around Semipalatinsk Nuclear Testing Site. Lancet 354: 1528-9, 1999