Radioactive Iodine Treatment for Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid gland is positioned in front of the neck and has the shape of a butterfly. It produces the hormones that control the way a human body uses energy and that helps in the normal body functioning.  Thyroid cancer is not very common and during this cancer abnormal cells start to grow inside the thyroid gland.

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer and females are more prone to have this disease at a ratio of 3:1. This type of cancer can take place at any age but people after the age of 30 are more prone to it and its aggressiveness increases in old patients.

radioactive iodine treatment for thyroid cancer


The common symptoms and signs of thyroid cancer include neck pain, enlarged nymph nodes and hoarse voice.


There are basically four types of thyroid cancer.

  • Papillary thyroid cancer
  • Follicular thyroid cancer
  • Medullary thyroid cancer
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer


If papillary thyroid cancer has not spread and if the tumors are small then a normal thyroidectomy is enough to eliminate cancer from the body. But for larger tumors those have already spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body further treatment like radioactive iodine therapy is required.

Radioactive Iodine Therapy

This therapy is most commonly used to treat more aggressive and larger tumors. It can also be used for treating smaller tumors to check if there is any complication related with the cancer. Radio iodine therapy is normally used after papillary thyroid cancer surgery within one to two months of time. The basic aim of this therapy is to eliminate cancer cells that might remain in the body after the surgery.

Preparing Your Body for the Therapy

Radioactive iodine therapy is considered to be a safe treatment because the radioactive iodine is absorbed by the thyroid cells. To promote the cancerous cells to absorb the radioactive iodine one of the following methods is recommended.

  • Increasing the levels of thyroid stimulating hormone in the body. The unaffected thyroid cells uses iodine to produce thyroid hormones but thyroid cells affected with cancer absorbs very small amount of iodine.
  • Reduction in the iodine levels in your body with a lower iodine diet. After reducing the iodine levels the thyroid cells in the body will be more likely to absorb the iodine from the radioactive therapy.


Radioactive iodine treatment is one of the most popular and safe treatment for thyroid cancer and it can be repeated every three months if there is any sign of cancer in your scans.