Thyroid cancer patients may get low dose of radioactive iodine

People with thyroid cancer are often given radioactive iodine treatment following surgery to kill cancer cells that may have been left behind, a treatment that comes with its own health risks, but this is likely to change in terms of quantity now, according to a study.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 29, 2014, 19:48 PM IST

Mumbai: People with thyroid cancer are often given radioactive iodine treatment following surgery to kill cancer cells that may have been left behind, a treatment that comes with its own health risks, but this is likely to change in terms of quantity now, according to a study.

New recommendations by experts say that a safer, lower dose of radioactive iodine is just as effective as the higher dose at getting rid of any such cells.

The guidelines, soon to be published by American Thyroid Association (ATA), are followed by doctors across the world, including India. They are expected to improve patient safety, ensure uniformity in treatment and cut recurrent hospitalisation costs, besides minimising side effects of radioactive iodine, the study released here said today.

As per ATA, low-dose of 30 millicurie (mci) radioactive iodine has received final approval for treatment of thyroid cancer after surgery as against the high dose (100 -150 millicurie) that is normally given.

Secondly, patients will be treated as per risk group - ie low, intermediate and high - based on chance of recurrence of cancer and possibility of death.

Another important recommendation is compulsory usage of ultrasound and needle aspiration to be conducted on all patients before surgery, according to the study.

City doctors said the new guidelines are a welcome step as they would help improve patient safety and lead to standardisation of treatment.

Vikram Lele, Head, Nuclear Medicine, Jaslok Hospital, "These recommendations will allow a large number of low risk thyroid cancer patients to receive 30 mci radio-iodine on an outpatient basis rather than requiring admission. In India admission is required for administering radio-iodine at doses above 30 mci. "

According to the Indian Thyroid Society, 4.2 crore people in the country suffer from thyroid disorders, among which almost 90 per cent are undiagnosed. Three per cent of thyroid disorders can be attributed to thyroid cancer alone.

Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine malignancy. Its symptoms may include lump in the neck, pain in the lower front part of the neck, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, hoarseness of voice, and trouble in breathing and swallowing.