Ablative treatment of thyroid cancer with high doses of 131I without pre-therapy scanning

Pedro W S Rosário, Alvaro L Barroso, Leonardo L Rezende, Eduardo L Padrão, Michelle A R Borges, Tales A Fagundes, Saulo Purisch
Nuclear Medicine Communications 2005, 26 (2): 129-32

OBJECTIVE: To determine the success of ablative treatment using fixed high doses of 131I in patients with thyroid cancer.

METHODS: A retrospective study was conducted on 274 patients who received ablative treatment without previous scanning, with the dose being based on surgical staging: stage I patients (tumour restricted to the thyroid) received 3.7 GBq, and stage II (lymph node metastases) and stage III patients (extra-thyroid invasion) were treated with 5.5 GBq. Successful treatment was defined as a negative control scan.

RESULTS: One hundred and sixty patients were classified as stage I and 114 as stages II or III. Forty-six patients presented ectopic uptake on post-therapy scans (10% in stage I and 26% in stage II or III). Among stage I patients, the efficacy of treatment was 78.7%. A 47% failure rate was associated with metastases, and among patients without metastases who did not respond to treatment, thyroid bed uptake >5% on post-therapy scans was observed in 61%. Patients with stage II or III showed 62.2% efficacy. Twenty-three of the 43 (53%) unsuccessfully treated patients in this group had metastases and of the 20 patients without metastases, 14 (70%) presented thyroid bed uptake >5%. There were no differences between the responsive and non-responsive groups in terms of age, gender, histological type or size of the primary tumour.

CONCLUSION: Empirical treatment presented 72% efficacy (higher in stage I) and failure was associated with the presence of metastases and large thyroid remnants; factors that can be evaluated by pre-therapy whole-body scanning.

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