"High-dose" radioiodine therapy in advanced differentiated thyroid carcinoma

C Menzel, F Grünwald, A Schomburg, H Palmedo, H Bender, G Späth, H J Biersack
Journal of Nuclear Medicine 1996, 37 (9): 1496-503

UNLABELLED: There is yet no consensus concerning the appropriate regimen of the application of [131I]sodium iodine (Nal) activities to patients suffering from advanced differentiated thyroid carcinoma. We report on a total of 167 applications of [131I]Nal, including 78 applications of 11.1 GBq. Response to high-activity radioiodine therapy (RIT) is correlated to the course of the disease as well as to the reaction of thyreoglobulin and acute/subacute side effects of radiation.

METHODS: Following radioablation of thyroid remnants using 1.85 to 3.7 GBq[131I]Nal, 26 patients with advanced differentiated thyroid carcinoma (follicular, 11; papillary, 4;mixed-cell thyroid carcinoma, 11) were treated with repeated activities of 11.1 GBq[131I]Nal. Initial tumor staging according to UICC showed T4 in 54%, T3 in 19%, T2 in 19% and was not obtained in 8%. Differentiated thyroid carcinoma was multifocal in 23% of patients. Applied accumulated activities ranged from 14.8 to 99.9 GBq with a mean of 55.5 GBq per patient.

RESULTS: Mean post-diagnostical follow-up was 73 mo, mean follow-up after diagnosis of metastatic spread was 48 mo. Follicular thyroid carcinoma remained as stable disease in 7 of 11 patients, 6 of whom showed metastatic disease after a mean of 20 mo, and only 1 complete remission was achieved using high-dose therapies, with progressive disease in the remaining patients. Overall, 73% of follicular thyroid carcinoma had progressive disease without major response to high-activity RIT. In contrast, only 20% of papillary thyroid carcinoma/mixed-cell thyroid carcinoma showed progressive disease, and complete remission was achieved in 47% of patients. Pulmonary and lymph node metastases in the majority of patients showed good response to therapy, whereas local recurrences and bone metastases showed minor reactions to RIT. After low-activity therapies 8% of patients showed WHO grade I hematotoxic reactions. After high-activity therapies, 38% of patients had WHO I, 8% WHO II and one patient had WHO III toxicity (4%).

CONCLUSION: Use repetitive high-activity RIT with a maximum of 44.4 GBq applied during 1 yr and a maximum of 99.9 GBq accumulated activity resulted in a significant increase of hematotoxicity. However, during the follow-up period (mean, 4 yr), no clinical symptoms possibly related to low blood counts were seen in patients with advanced differentiated thyroid carcinoma. Initiation of high-activity RIT in reaction to metastatic tumor outspread to achieve complete remission was found to be useful in treating papillary thyroid carcinoma and mixed-cell thyroid carcinoma, but only in a minority of follicular thyroid carcinoma patients.

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