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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Radioactive iodine therapy for thyroid cancer

Radioactive iodine therapy for thyroid cancer

Radioactive iodine therapy is only effective for differentiated cancer, such as papillary or follicular thyroid cancers. It is not used to treat medullary or anaplastic thyroid cancers, because these types of cancer cells do not take up iodine.

Radioactive iodine for thyroid cancer will cause your body to give off radiation for a period of time, and this requires special precautions to prevent others from being exposed. If your doctors think treatment with I-131 may be an option for you, they will discuss the possible risks and benefits with you, as well as necessary precautions, and help you to make an informed decision.

What is radioactive iodine therapy?

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), radioactive iodine therapy for thyroid cancer may be used alone or in combination with other treatments, such as surgery.

Treatment with radioactive iodine is used most frequently for thyroid cancers that have spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body, though its potential benefit in patients with small tumors that can be completely removed by surgery is not clear.

Because almost all iodine in your bloodstream gets taken up by the thyroid gland, radioactive iodine (I-131) can be used to destroy the thyroid gland and thyroid cancer cells in lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

For this procedure, the radioactive iodine is taken into the body either in liquid or capsule form.