Radioactive Iodine treatment has long been a key component of treatment for patients suffering from minor to moderate cases of thyroid cancer. Usually performed after the thyroid has been removed, the treatment was designed to pump in radioactive isotopes of iodine killing any remaining cancerous cells left in the thyroid after surgery, decreasing the chances of relapse.
The problem with the procedure is that while the treatment itself is quite safe and free of major side effects, the procedure can be quite expensive and time extensive for patients.
Newer studies have already indicated that the time for radioactive iodine may have passed. With advances in ct scans and ultrasound testing, many thyroid tumors are found while they are still small and have relatively low risks. For these tumors, it had long been speculated that radiation was not necessary and unreasonably costly to add to treatment. In 2012, researchers found that even smaller than normal doses of radiation were just as effective at preventing relapse compared to normal doses of radioactive iodine.
These same researchers then performed a larger study of 730 patients with low-risk thyroid cancer and tumors less than 2 centimeters in width, treating half with no radioactive iodine at all, and half with the microdose similar to amounts of the previous study,
These researchers found after 3 years there was no difference in relapses, needed treatments, and irregular biological findings, between the groups who were treated and not treated with radioactive iodine.
While these groups will be monitored for years to come, and recommendations on radioactive iodine will not change right away, this could be the first piece of hard evidence that a laborious and expensive part of thyroid cancer treatment may be a thing of the past.
Have any questions in regards to thyroid cancer, or thyroid health in general? Consult a medical professional today.