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Can Iodine Therapy Treat Thyroid Cancer Successfully?

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Can Iodine Therapy Treat Thyroid Cancer Successfully?

   September 11, 2022

   HCG Nasik Team,


Thyroid cancer occurs when cells of the thyroid gland undergo uncontrolled division. There are several types of thyroid cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer constitutes about 80% of all thyroid cancer cases. It grows slowly and may invade the nearby lymph nodes. Follicular thyroid cancer shares about 10 to 15% of total thyroid cancer cases. Several types of treatment may help in managing thyroid cancer. These include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and radioactive iodine therapy. Radioactive iodine therapy is used in several types of thyroid cancer, including follicular and papillary thyroid cancer. The patients should receive the best thyroid cancer treatment in Nashik.

Radioactive iodine therapy

Radioactive iodine therapy is used for the management of hyperthyroidism and thyroid cancer. Although the word “radioactive” associated with this therapy may sound frightening to some patients, the therapy is safe and effective in managing these conditions. This therapy targets the thyroid cells, and thus, it is safe for other healthy body cells.

Radioactive iodine therapy and thyroid cancer: Mechanism

There are several types of radioisotopes of iodine that are used for managing thyroid cancer. These isotopes are I-123 and I-131. Once in the body, these isotopes emit radiation and destroy the cancer cells. As these isotopes specifically target the thyroid cells, it is also effective in patients in whom the thyroid cancer has spread to other body parts.

  • I-123: This isotope is used in cases in which the thyroid cancer is metastasized to other tissues of the body. The therapy is taken orally.
  • I-131: This isotope is generally used after surgery to eliminate the remaining cancerous cells or thyroid tissues. In some cases, it is used in recurrent thyroid cancer.

Preparing for radioactive iodine therapy

The patients should have a high level of thyroid stimulating hormone to make the radioactive iodine therapy effective. It is the hormone that is responsible for the uptake of radioactive iodine by the thyroid tissues along with cancerous cells. If the radioactive iodine therapy is performed after total thyroidectomy, there are the following two ways that may help in increasing the level of thyroid stimulating hormone:

  • The patients should stop the administration of thyroid hormone tablets. It will lower the level of thyroid hormone in the blood, leading to an increased level of TSH. This technique is temporary. It may also cause side effects such as constipation, depression, tiredness, and muscle aches.
  • The patients may also receive shots of thyrotropin. It has the ability to withhold the thyroid hormone for an extended period. The drug is administered consecutively for two days. On the third day, the patients undergo radioactive iodine therapy.

The doctor may recommend the patient avoid foods that contain a high level of iodine. These foods include iodized salt, eggs, dairy products, soy, and seafood.

Precautions during radioactive iodine therapy

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid radioactive iodine therapy. After the radioactive iodine therapy, the doctor may advise the patient to avoid getting pregnant for at least 12 months after the treatment. Further, the patient should stop breastfeeding at least six weeks before radioactive iodine therapy.

The body of the patients may emit radiation for some time after the radioactive iodine therapy. Based on the dose of radioactive iodine, your doctor may advise you to stay at the hospital to prevent others from being exposed to radiation. In some cases, there is no requirement for hospitalization. There are several precautions you need to adhere to after getting discharged from the hospital. These precautions are:

  • Avoid prolonged contact with others and sleep alone.
  • Avoid public places and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others.
  • Do not share utensils, towels, and personal items.
  • Frequently wash your hands and take a bath daily.

Side effects

There are several side effects of radioactive iodine therapy. Some of them are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Alteration in taste
  • Swelling and tenderness in the neck
  • Swelling and tenderness in the salivary glands

Efficacy of radioactive iodine therapy in thyroid cancer: Evidence-based intervention

Radioactive iodine therapy is considered accurate and targeted and has limited side effects in patients with thyroid cancer. It is due to their high affinity for the thyroid cells. Several studies have demonstrated the efficacy of radioactive iodine therapy in thyroid cancer. A study has recommended radioactive iodine ablation therapy in patients with a tumor less than 2 cm and distant metastasis.

It has been reported that radioactive iodine (I-131) is effective as an adjuvant treatment for well-differentiated, high-risk thyroid cancer after the patient has undergone thyroidectomy for recurrent or residual thyroid cancer. Most patients with thyroid cancer have a good prognosis when treated appropriately. Thyroidectomies and post-operative radioactive iodine therapies may achieve almost 90% remission rates.

Treatment with radioactive iodine therapy improves the prognosis in patients with a papillary thyroid tumor. Further, it also reduces the recurrence and lowers disease-specific mortality in patients with intermediate-risk papillary thyroid cancer. Oncologists at the best hospital for thyroid cancer treatment, while developing the individual treatment strategy for thyroid cancer, may consider incorporating radioactive iodine therapy rather than following a “one size fits all” strategy.

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