Curious about thyroid cancer and radioiodine treatment

Today, radionuclide treatment methods constitute one of the leading models in cancer treatment. When radioactive agents are used in a controlled and purposeful way, they positively affect the treatment of some diseases and quality of life. The primary target is the delivery of the given radionuclide materials to the cancerous tissue and the protection of normal tissues. The side effects of these methods are more limited than other methods. In addition, after it is given to the patient for treatment, in which part of the body and how effective it is can be determined by taking an image. Liv Hospital Nuclear Medicine Specialist Assoc. Dr. Emel Ceylan Günay talked about radioiodine treatment.

What is atom therapy?

Among the people, ‘radioiodine’ therapy is known as atomic therapy. While beta rays emitted by radiative iodine 131 are used for treatment purposes, gamma rays with longer distances allow image acquisition. Atom therapy is administered in capsule or liquid form and taken orally. The liquid form tastes like water and does not disturb the patient.

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Who is the treatment for?

Atom therapy is used in the treatment of hyperthyroidism where the thyroid gland works too fast (toxic goiter) and thyroid gland cancers. It is applied at low doses in the treatment of hyperthyroidism, and at higher doses in thyroid cancer. It is not correct to apply this treatment to pregnant and lactating patients. Apart from this, it can be applied to patients of all ages and genders, and can be repeated if necessary. One application is usually sufficient with a well-calculated dose. However, in some patients, the disease may be more resistant or widespread and multiple applications may be required.

Are there any side effects of Atom therapy?

Atom therapy can have some minor side effects. Although it is temporary, pain or tenderness in the neck may be observed rarely. Swelling of the salivary glands may occur. Nausea may occur in the early period after treatment in patients with stomach upset. However, it is possible to prevent or keep these effects to a minimum with some simple suggestions. After Atom therapy, patients can become pregnant, give birth and breastfeed. However, we do not recommend that patients become pregnant for six months after treatment.

What is the process after atomic treatment?

If the dose taken by the patient is at a level that requires bedtime, they stay for a while in rooms specially prepared for isolation. These rooms are generally bright and comfortable. There are special materials on the walls and doors of these rooms, but they are not noticeable from the outside. Patients can be discharged after the amount of radiation emitted from the radioiodine on the patient decreases and falls below the legal dose limit that can be confused with the public. Although it is different for each patient, patients can usually be sent home within two to three days.

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What should patients pay attention to after discharge?

There are three important issues to be followed after atomic treatment. Distance, time and cleanliness.

Although it varies according to the dose taken by the patient, there are rules that should be followed for about 1-2 weeks. Such as not being in crowded environments for a long time, not being in close proximity with the household for a long time. Hygiene is another important factor. Since the given radioiodine is excreted in the urine, attention should be paid to the cleaning of the toilet, laundry, cutlery, etc.

Iodine-poor diet recommendation before radioiodine treatment

It is recommended to limit iodine-containing substances and foods for the periods recommended by your doctor before treatment. The aim here is to increase iodine hunger before treatment. After the treatment, you can return to your normal diet.

Recommendations to be restricted:

  • Iodized salt (non-iodized salt can be used)
  • Cough syrups and vitamin preparations containing iodine
  • Vitamin and mineral preparations containing iodine
  • Iodine dressings and mouthwashes
  • Making hair dye
  • Tincture of iodine
  • Seafood (Fish, shrimp, etc.)
  • Milk and dairy products (milk, yogurt, ayran, etc.)
  • soy sauces
  • Ready-made canned goods, ready-made delicatessen products (salami, sausage, etc.)
  • Pickles, chips, etc. salty foods




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