Radioactive iodine therapy, known as “atomic therapy” in the public, is performed following surgery in thyroid cancer. It is the only treatment option to destroy the residual thyroid tissue and thyroid cancer cells in a lymph node or other parts of the body.
With radioactive iodine therapy, the residual tissue in the thyroid locus is removed and the patient's follow-up is facilitated. It also reduces recurrence and prolongs survival by revealing and treating hidden metastases. An effective alternative therapy other than radioactive iodine therapy after surgery is not available. As an alternative to radioactive iodine therapy, a long-term anti-thyroid treatment or surgical options are available for some patients, but results are not definitive.
In most cases toxic goiter can successfully be treated with only a single dose having a lifelong success rate up to 90%. The dose is specified by regulations. The dose of radioactive iodine depends on the nature of the thyroid disease. Some patients may require low doses while some patients may require high doses. If it will be administered in low dose, the patient does not need to be hospitalized and he/she can return home after the therapy. If the drug is to be administered in high doses, the patient must be hospitalized in a room specific to radioactive iodine therapy in order to avoid radiation exposure to the environment. The length of hospital stay may vary between 3 days and 1 week and the dose is administered depending on radiation detected in the body by daily measurements. Therapy is applied in Nuclear Medicine Department at Anadolu Medical Center.
There is a possibility of developing hypothyroidism (less functioning thyroid gland) after the therapy. In this case, you may permanently need to supply thyroid hormones externally. In rare cases, pain, tension and hyperthyroidism may be temporarily increased in the neck region. There is a possibility of development of ophthalmopathy (eyes become prominent outwards) or worsening of existing ophthalmopathy.
Radioactive iodine therapy with proper patient selection following correct surgical operation has been proven by over 95% of patients to eliminate the disease completely.