Those suffering from an overactive thyroid have a new treatment option available locally. Recently, doctors at Piedmont Newnan Hospital began using radioactive iodine (I-131) therapy – a less invasive, non-surgical treatment option to destroy the thyroid gland cells and relieve symptoms.
“Not only is it more convenient for hyperthyroid patients, but it is successful in treating types of thyroid cancer that have spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body,” said David Bodne, MD, a radiologist at Piedmont Newnan. “For thyroid cancer, this therapy is typically done a few weeks after surgery to treat any residual disease and to detect the extent of the disease being treated. It can also be used if there’s suspicion of reoccurrence to re-treat and re-stage the disease.”
This treatment uses small amounts of radioactive material to diagnose and determine the severity of and treat thyroid disease. Because nuclear medicine procedures are able to pinpoint molecular activity within the body, they offer the potential to identify disease in its earliest stages as well as a patient’s immediate response to therapeutic interventions. The radiation can destroy the thyroid gland and any other thyroid cells (including cancer cells) that take up iodine, with little effect on the rest of the patient’s body.
“After time, many patients find treating the symptoms of an overactive thyroid gland to be difficult to continue due to the side effects,” said Dr. Bodne. “This is when they consider more permanent therapies such as I-131.”
According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime, with an estimated 20 million Americans having some form of thyroid disease. Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine cancer and the American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 64,300 new cases of thyroid cancer in the U.S. in 2016.
Those that chose this treatment option will be given a small dose of I-131 in capsule form that is swallowed and then absorbed into the bloodstream in the gastrointestinal tract and concentrated from the blood by the thyroid gland, where it begins to destroy the gland’s cells. Patients are able to go home the same day and then return for a scan and lab work to confirm results.
Doctors at Piedmont Newnan started performing these procedures in July and more are being scheduled every day. The best candidates for this procedure are patients who have high levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone in the blood.