2nd World Congress on Cell Science & Stem Cell Research
Radioactive Iodine Therapy: A boon for patients
To make people aware and understand the importance of thyroid health and the medical advancement achieved in treating thyroid diseases, the World Thyroid Day is observed every year on 25 May. This year, experts emphasised the importance and effectiveness of Radioactive Iodine treatment in curing Thyroid Cancer and the need to spread awareness about it.
Dr RV Parameswaran, head of nuclear medicine at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore said: “Cases of thyroid cancer have seen a rise in the past few years. 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 now, Radioactive Iodine Treatment is increasingly being used to kill cancer cells that may have been left behind after surgery, or those that are spread in the body or thyroid cancer that reappears after treatment. It has become a real boon for thyroid cancer treatment.”
The thyroid gland, located in the lower part of the neck, secretes hormones that deliver energy to body cells and controls metabolism. Thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, benign lumps, thyroiditis, auto-immune thyroid disease and thyroid cancer have become common globally, affecting millions of people. According to The Indian Thyroid Society, 4.2 crore Indians are suffering from thyroid disorders with almost 90 per cent undiagnosed. Thyroid Cancer is the most common endocrine malignancy. Its symptoms may include lump in the neck, pain in the lower front part of the neck, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, hoarseness of voice, and trouble in breathing and swallowing. Physical examination, blood tests, thyroid and other scans, thyroid ultrasound, fine-needle aspiration biopsy and surgical biopsy can be done to detect thyroid cancer in a patient. For most thyroid cancer cases, the entire thyroid is removed and the patients need to take thyroid replacement hormone throughout their lives. Lymph nodes in the neck that contain cancer are also removed. With Radioactive Iodine Therapy post surgery, any thyroid tissue remaining in the body takes up the iodine which kills cancer cells.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy is now available in many hospitals in the country after the removal of thyroid. It requires a special set up, including isolation rooms and separate drainage system.
Thirty five-year-old Charu Singla (name changed) was left shocked when after the discovery of a lump in her neck; she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She was explained how her entire thyroid gland will have to be removed along with the affected lymph nodes. After the surgery, Radioactive Iodine treatment was given to her to destroy any cancer cells that may have been left behind.
“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 the case of this patient, there were chances of cancer cells being left behind as she had several enlarged nodes and therefore the need for Radioactive Iodine treatment. After Radioactive Iodine treatment, patients are kept under observation in isolation wards to check the radiation levels. Lutetium therapy is another upcoming treatment option for thyroid cancer,” said Dr. RV Parameswaran.
Spreading awareness about the early and accurate diagnosis, correct and timely treatment with latest therapies and regular follow-ups are the keys can help free the world from diseases such as thyroid cancer.