Dec 3, 2012

Fukushima Prefecture’s New Cancer Center: “Recovery” Vision by Fukushima Medical University

As early as September 2011, merely six months after the Fukushima accident, Fukushima Medical University had already decided to build a new, state-of-the-art cancer center with extensive affiliation with pharmaceutical and other medical industry.

Source: article in Fukushima Mimpo on September 20, 2011

Fukushima Medical University revealed a summary of their “recovery vision” towards the regionalization of radiation medical care on September 20, 2011.  It will build a new 330-bed Radiation Medicine Prefecture Resident Health Management Center within 5 years.  The center will have specialists within the nation as medical and research staff in order to raise the standard of cancer care in Fukushima Prefecture to the highest level in the nation.  They will also establish medical seminars, specifically for medical care for radiation exposure, to educate medical care providers.  They anticipate an expense of 10 billion yen (about $130 million) and are asking the government to incorporate it into the tertiary supplementary budget proposal together with the prefecture.

The plan is to use available areas such as parking lots within the medical university for new buildings.  Radiation Medicine Prefecture Resident Health Management Center will be the focal point of providing early medical care for cancer.  Departments of  thyroid surgery, hematology, radiology and dermatology will be moved from the medical university hospital to the new center so that the specialists will be onsite, in order to aim towards sophistication of medical care.  Since the effect of radiation on infants, small children and pregnant women will be a special concern, the center will also have pediatric and obstetrics departments.  

The center will be a nine-story building made of steel and concrete with a total area of 29,000 m2.  It will be slightly smaller than the current medical university hospital.

The center will additionally have two molecular imaging facilities for early detection of illnesses.  It will include latest equipments such as PET scan and Cyclotron used for diagnosis of cancer, super-high resolution CT scan, and whole body counter for measurement of internal radiation exposure.

It will also have a center for drug development and clinical trial to advance the development of pharmaceutical agents for cancer treatment.  There will be a research and laboratory facility which will analyze the results of Health Management Survey, which is geared towards the entire prefectural residents, and also develop new cancer treatments.

Medical seminars will be specific for medical care for radiation exposure, and its attendance capacity is being determined.  The medical school will request that the government increase the number of students allowed at the school for the new medical seminars.  It will also consider increasing the number of physicians sent to public hospitals in order to raise the standard of medical care within the prefecture.

It also plans on congregating medical industry related to radiation.  It will establish a Fukushima Center for Promotion of Medical Industry as a research facility for industry-academic cooperation.   This center will cooperate with local and international corporations to promote a development of equipments used for examination, diagnosis and treatment in radiation medicine.  They hope to attract companies which will be research partners, leading to activation of regional industry as well as job creation.

A big challenge will be to secure personnel in order to realize the plan.  At least several tens of physicians and professors will be needed for the new facilities and seminars.  It has already been agreed that they will come from both Hiroshima and Nagasaki Universities which they have a cooperation agreement with in regards to radiation medicine.  In the future they will work with related institutions within the country to secure medical and research staff.

The plan combined the government’s basic recovery policy for Fukushima Prefecture which incorporates establishment of a center for radiation medicine and the recovery vision of the prefecture.

Vice president Yokoyama of Fukushima Medical University who is in charge of the recovery business at Fukushima Medical University says, “We would like to secure safety and a sense of relief for the prefectural residents by arranging for the latest treatment and diagnosis in our prefecture that had the nuclear power plant accident.  Our goal is ‘a region where you can live the healthiest in the entire Japan’.”

The prefecture thinks the plan matches the government’s basic recovery policy, and they are sure there is a high possibility that the expense will be approved in the government’s tertiary supplementary budget.

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