Radioactive iodine (I-131)
Radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy may be used after the surgery (adjuvant treatment) in the management of thyroid cancer. Majority of iodine in the body is stored in the thyroid. RAI is taken in the form of a capsule and concentrates in the thyroid tissue and destroys remaining thyroid tissue (including cancer cells). RAI may improve survival in patients with metastatic well differentiated thyroid cancer. Not all patients with thyroid cancer will benefit from RAI therapy and risk stratification is used to determine who would benefit from RAI therapy. Potential side effects of RAI include neck tenderness and swelling, nausea and vomiting, swelling of salivary gland and dry mouth. There is an increased risk of developing leukemia in patients treated with RAI.
Continued surveillance with physical examination, monitoring Thyroglobulin levels (well diferentiated thyroid cancer), appropriate imaging and management of thyroid hormone levels are essential aspects of managing patients with thyroid cancer. Regular follow up with your surgeon and endocrinologist is very important.