Thyroid Cancer pp 285-317 | Cite as

Radioiodine and External Radiation Therapy in the Treatment of Thyroid Cancer

  • James Brierley
  • Harry R. Maxon
Part of the Endocrine Updates book series (ENDO, volume 2)


For over 50 years, radioiodine-131 has been used in the post surgical treatment of differentiated thyroid cancer (1). In 1957, workers at the University of Michigan popularized 131I in an easy to use, empiric approach that recommended the administration of fixed activities of 131I to patients who were allowed to become hypothyroid after their initial surgical therapy (2). It soon became evident that only about 70-80% of differentiated thyroid cancers would concentrate 131I under these conditions (3). When patients whose recurrent/metastatic cancers could not be shown to concentrate 131I on diagnostic 131I scans were excluded, then 131I therapy given to the point of “ablation” of 131I uptake on subsequent diagnostic scans resulted in a significant improvement in mortality (4). The methods of patient preparation and treatment that were developed during the first 25 years of 131I use have not been modified in most health care facilities. In part this has been due to a shift in physician training. During the first 25 years, about 80% of nuclear medicine physicians entered the field from backgrounds in internal medicine, resulting in interest and training both in diseases of the thyroid and in the use of radioactive medicine by radiologists who are interested primarily in image interpretation or by endocrinologists who are not broadly trained in the intricacies of the use of radioactive materials, both of which groups find the decades old empiric approaches convenient to use.


Thyroid Cancer Thyroid Carcinoma Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma Papillary Thyroid Cancer External Radiation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Brierley
    • 1
  • Harry R. Maxon
    • 2
  1. 1.The Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret HospitalTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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