In report published in the journal Lancet, doctors from the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research and Toranomon Hospital in Tokyo, urged authorities to take blood samples from the workers at risk of exposure to damaging levels of radiation.
The stem cells taken from these samples could be used in the treatment of certain diseases caused secondary to radioactive exposure.
The letter, written by a group of Japanese scientists led by Dr. Tetsuya Tanimoto, was published as teams are working in an extremely dangerous condition at the site of nuclear disaster to cool overheated fuel in the three damaged reactors and to remove irradiated water from the plant.
"The process to completely shut down the reactors is expected to take years. The risk of accidental radiation exposure will thus accumulate for the nuclear workers and banking of their PBSCs will become increasingly important," the scientists said.
The Japanese doctors called to mind that some workers received donated bone marrow transplants after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and two Japanese nuclear workers got donated stem cell transplants after the 1999 accident.
They stressed that providing Fukushima workers with their own stem cells, instead of donated cells, would lead to lower rejection rates and subsequently better results.
Doctors complain that officials in the Japanese nuclear industry have refused to store the workers' PBSCs, saying this act may damage their reputation.
"The most important mission is to save the nuclear workers' lives and to protect the local communities," the scientists emphasized. "Such an approach would be the industry's best defense: if a fatal accident happened to the nuclear workers, the nuclear power industry of Japan would collapse."