Radiation Treatment Given to Millions of Babies without Making Aware of Cancer Risks


Nancy Riva suffered the loss of her two brothers for the same reason. She also received cancer diagnosis as an adult due to the radiations inflicted by the treatment in her childhood.

In the late 1940s, the three children came to life in Vancouver General Hospital and were given the radiation treatment in the first days of life, in the belief that it will cut the chances of sudden death amongst infants.

At that time the radiations were applied for a wide range of conditions, including acne, ringworm, birthmarks, and others. Riva underwent this method for inflamed thymus gland.

The ‘innovative’ and popular procedure, considered harmless and adequate, shown in time a heightened rate of thyroid cancer and other ailments in adult years.

A nationwide campaign carried the duty to inform the medical community and the people who undergo radiation treatment about the late effect, promoting a thyroid checkup.

Finding the radiation-exposed patients is out of reach for health authorities. Here’s the reason:

Under the Hospital Act, records only have to be maintained for ten years after a patient’s last hospital admission, so it’s unlikely we would have these birth records, although people can still phone the hospital to check, said the spokeswoman Tara Wilson.

An Awarness Campaing Can Still Make a Huge Difference

The story of Riva makes the Canadian health authorities responsible for warning the public about the late consequences, as timely detection of cancer raises the chances of survival significantly.

Until now have been recorded no trials in finding out how many people have suffered the effect of radiation treatment across Canada. Also, it is not known if it has been made any effort in alerting the Canadian population and the medical community.

If the Canadian health authorities take some appropriate measures in this direction, it can still cease the diseases linked with the past nightmarish treatment and save some lives.


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