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Low-dose radioiodine therapy for patients with intermediate- to high-risk differentiated thyroid cancer

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The efficacy of low-dose radioiodine therapy (RIT) for intermediate-risk or high-risk differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) patients is controversial. Because of the country's shortage of medical facilities for RIT, 1110-MBq RIT for higher risk DTC patients has been performed on an outpatient basis since 2010 in Japan. Herein, we addressed this issue and attempted to determine prognostic factors for the prediction of RIT outcomes.


We retrospectively analyzed the cases of 119 patients with papillary thyroid cancer who underwent their first RIT with 1110 MBq radioactive iodine (RAI) following a total thyroidectomy, including 65 (54.6%) intermediate-risk and 54 (45.4%) high-risk patients (according to Japan's 2018 clinical practical guidelines for thyroid tumors). Successful ablation was defined when a negative I-131 whole-body scan and thyroglobulin (Tg) < 2 ng/mL were obtained at a diagnostic scan performed 148–560 days (median 261 days) after the first RIT.


The overall ablation success rate was 23.4%. Although the ablation success rates of each pretreatment protocol [recombinant human thyroid stimulating hormone and thyroid hormone withdrawal (THW)] did not differ significantly, THW tended to result in a higher success rate than rhTSH. The Tg level at RIT was the only independent powerful predictive factor for successful ablation. The best cut-off value of Tg for predicting unsuccessful ablation was 9 ng/mL.


The ablation success rate was much lower than those of earlier studies; the most plausible reason would be that higher risk DTC patients were included in this study. The low-dose RIT routinely performed in Japan might be inadequate for the achievement of successful ablation. At least for patients with Tg > 9 ng/mL at the first RIT, a higher dose of RAI is recommended.

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Correspondence to Koichiro Abe.

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Abe, K., Ishizaki, U., Ono, T. et al. Low-dose radioiodine therapy for patients with intermediate- to high-risk differentiated thyroid cancer. Ann Nucl Med 34, 144–151 (2020).

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