Radio-iodine therapy in differentiated thyroid cancer: indications and procedures

Christoph Reiners, Markus Dietlein, Markus Luster
Best Practice & Research. Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2008, 22 (6): 989-1007
Post-surgical ablative iodine-131 therapy is recommended for all differentiated thyroid cancer primary tumors>1 cm in diameter. Regarding smaller primary tumors, 131I ablation may be helpful in special cases: tumor close to the thyroid capsule, previous percutaneous radiation to the neck, familial occurrence of thyroid cancer, tumor diameter 5-10 mm, and unfavorable histological variants. In this context, the patient's preferences for safety should be considered. In most centers, standard fixed activities of 1-3 GBq are used for 131I ablation. Preparation for the procedure with such activities requires a low-iodine diet for 2-3 weeks and stimulation of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) by withholding of thyroid hormone for 3 weeks following thyroidectomy or by use of recombinant human TSH. The advantages of recombinant TSH are avoidance of hypothyroid morbidity and consequently a better quality of life, as well as a lower radiation dose to extra-thyroidal compartments. To treat metastastic differentiated thyroid cancer, higher activities of radio-iodine (in the range 4-11 GBq) are necessary; if possible, individual dosimetry is recommended. The standard approach to preparation for 131I therapy in patients with metastases is endogenous hypothyroidism after thyroid hormone withdrawal.

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