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September 20, 1995

Government Is in No Rush to Study Thousands of Veterans Who Received Nasal Radiation Therapy

JAMA. 1995;274(11):858-859. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530110014004

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DESPITE LARGE gaps in the knowledge of the risks of head and neck cancers from ionizing radiation, federal authorities are in no rush to conduct an epidemiologic study of a large cohort of US veterans and others who were treated with nasopharyngeal radium irradiation from 1943 until the mid 1960s.

Some authorities estimate that during this period tens of thousands of servicemen and hundreds of thousands of children and other civilians received high doses of radiation from radium capsules inserted into their nasal passages to shrink adenoid and lymphoid tissues.

On August 29,1994, in response to an increasing number of requests for a federal study by some scientists and veterans, the US Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Regulation held a hearing on the effects of nasopharyngeal radium treatments.

To collect information to help determine what, if any, public health assessments are needed for populations who were exposed to

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