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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Systemic radiation therapy

We use systemic radiation therapy to treat some thyroid cancers.

How it works

This type of radiation therapy delivers radioactive materials, such as iodine 131, to a patient either orally or through an injection. The thyroid absorbs most of the iodine and the rest passes out of the body in the urine. Radioactive iodine is often given after thyroid surgery to destroy any remaining cancerous tissues.

Because the radioactive materials can leave the body through urine, saliva and other fluids, special precautions are taken in the days immediately following treatment so the radiation does not affect the people around the patient. This may include: a hospital stay, avoiding sharing utensils or other personal items, sleeping alone, and limited contact with children and pregnant women.