Several reports have suggested a benefit from radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy in Tg-positive, whole-body scan-negative patients with follicular cell-derived thyroid cancer, who were said to have high rates of visualization of uptake in metastases after therapeutic doses of RAI. We sought to evaluate the rate of visualization of RAI uptake in these patients and determine the effect of such therapy on tumor progression and Tg levels. We studied 24 consecutive patients who had been treated with high-dose RAI, four of whom had no evidence of metastasis or persistent cancer. Our results showed that four patients had some uptake in posttherapy scans: in the neck, lung, and mediastinal metastases in one patient, in the thyroid remnant in two, and in a possible neck microrecurrence in one. In 13 patients with macrometastases - tumors 1 cm or greater - tumors progressed and serum Tg increased; five have died of thyroid cancer. The disease remained stable in the seven patients with micrometastases. We concluded that in high-risk patients with follicular cell-derived thyroid cancer with high Tg levels and negative diagnostic whole-body scans, only a small number showed meaningful uptake after high doses of RAI. Therefore, widespread use of empiric RAI therapy for such patients who have a large tumor burden should not be encouraged.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical