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Iodine Radiation 131 Treatment for Thyroid Cancer
Sunday, 22 February 2009 11:16

What is radioactive iodine oblation Therapy (thyroid cells ablation with iodine 131)? 


Typically, radioactive treatment is perform on thyroid cancer stage three or greater and/or in stage two in patients younger than 45.2 


Radioactive Iodine oblation therapy is conducted in order to destroy all normal and abnormal thyroid cells, including cancer cells.  Destroying these cells makes future body scans more accurate.  It also provides more accurate blood testing which is commonly done to monitor for thyroid cancer recurrences.


In order for radiation therapy to be effective an environment needs to be creating that facilitates the remaining thyroid cancer cells to uptake the radioactive iodine.  The ideal environment for optimal uptake of radiation is for your body to have low levels of iodine and high levels of a hormone called TSH. 


To decrease the levels of iodine in one’s body, one must decrease the amount of iodine they eat.  Thus, the low iodine diet for two weeks prior to the radioactive iodine treatment.  This diet tends to be very annoying at times.   One will find themselves reading every food label prior to eating.  If you like to go out to eat this diet can be challenging because no restaurants or fast food at all.


To have a successful radioactive iodine 131 treatment one must also have high levels of TSH in their body.  Elevated levels of TSH help the cells uptake the radioactive iodine.  There are two principle ways to increase one’s body’s level of TSH.  The first method would be for one’s body to enter a state of hypothyroidism.  This is done by discontinuing your thyroid medications for 2 weeks prior to your radiation therapy.  This can be very discomforting for patients because of the side effects of being in a state of hypothyroidism.  Often patients feel will feel fatigue and very tired. 



An alternative method to increase the levels of TSH in the body is by getting recombinant TSH injected daily for 2 days prior to the radioactive iodine treatment.  The benefit to this method is that one doesn’t have to experience hypothyroidism.  This is much more tolerated by patients.


After the radioactive iodine treatment a whole body scan will be performed 5-8 days later.  This will help determine the next steps in the treatment.  One will find out at this point if the cancer has spread, metastasized, to other locations in the body. 


If one’s body scan is negative then, hurray!  You are on the road to beating thyroid cancer.  However, if it comes back as positive metastasis don’t get discouraged because further treatment will be done that will likely cure your cancer.


Below is a youtube video of a young female that has undergone radioactive iodine 131 treatment.  Her treatment was done in Germany.  My experience was much different in the United States.  I didn’t have to pee in any bags!   They did wrap the room in paper and plastic.  I only had to stay in the hospital for 24 hours then my radiation levels were low enough to go home.  I guess it depends on the state and hospital where one gets the radioactive treatment.



It’s been one month since my radiation treatment and I have had NO side effects.  My taste buds are fine.  I’m sure it depends on the dosage of radioactive iodine 131 used.  Maybe I had a lower dose.


UPDATE:  Jan 20, 2012:  I have had no side effects from the radiation treatment.  It has been almost 3 years from my initial treatment and I have had ZERO problems from radioactive Iodine 131.  My initial dose was 100.3 mCl. 




Last Updated on Friday, 17 February 2012 11:41

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