Radioactive iodine effective for thyroid cancer, shows treatment

Radioactive iodine effective for thyroid cancer, shows treatment

Renu Gupta, 34, a science teacher from Haryana observed a nodule in the thyroid region of her neck.

She came to Delhi for her diagnosis. After a series of tests, it was found that she was suffering from thyroid cancer. 

During the treatment, she began to have speech problems and her voice started becoming bleak and inaudible. She was given radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment, and her thyroid cancer was completely gone.

RAI treatment is specifically meant for treating thyroid disorders. In an acute thyroid cancer, a thyroid gland is removed. Some cancer cells still might be left behind. With radioactive iodine treatment, this problem is solved.

Thyroid gland absorbs almost all the iodine from the blood. RAI destroys the glands as well as its cells, leaving no cancerous cell behind.

This treatment can be used to destroy any thyroid tissue not removed by surgery or to treat thyroid cancer that has spread to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. In the process, the thyroid gland has to be replaced.

Talking about Gupta’s case, Dr C S Bal, department of nuclear medicine, AIIMS, who treated her, said, “Administering a dosage of radioactive iodine post operatively can save a person’s life by killing the microscopic cancer cells and even help patients whose thyroid cancer reappears after surgery.

In her case, there were chances of cancer cells being left behind as she had several enlarged nodes and therefore the radioactive iodine treatment was required.”

He added that there has been a rise in cases of thyroid cancer cases in India. “We have observed a sharp rise in the afflicted cases visiting the institute with thyroid cancers.

From under 150 cases in 1986-90, nearly 2,000 cases in 2006-10 were registered,” he said.

“The good news is that most cases are treatable. Surgery to remove all or most of the thyroid and lymph nodes is mostly taken up and radioactive iodine treatment is increasingly being used to kill cancer cells that may have been left behind after surgery,” said Dr P S Choudhury, director, nuclear medicine, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute.

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