Radioactive Iodine Treatment
If you have had radioactive iodine treatment for papillary or follicular thyroid cancer, you will need a follow up assessment between 9-12 months after treatment to check your response and to decide if any further radioactive iodine treatment is needed.
The follow up process does vary slightly but will involve one or more of the following:
- Thyroglobulin blood test
- Neck ultrasound scan
- Radioactive iodine full body scan. This is used less commonly. (Again you will need to have a high TSH level and will either need to stop thyroid medication temporarily or have rhTSH injections. You will need to follow similar restrictions - including not getting pregnant - to when you had the treatment in the isolation room [even though this is done as an outpatient] as you will be made radioactive again.)
Unlike other more common cancers, patients with a diagnosis of thyroid cancer usually remain on follow up in the clinic life long. After the initial period of treatment and follow up clinic visits, the subsequent follow up is often only needed on a once yearly basis.
Your follow up clinic visits will usually involve seeing the doctor, having your neck area examined; blood tests (e.g. thyroid function test (TFT), calcium, thyroglobulin (Tg. To monitor papillary and follicular thyroid cancer), calcitonin and CEA (to monitor medullary thyroid cancer) and sometimes scans.
This is needed for a number of reasons including monitoring thyroid hormone levels and to check for signs of cancer having returned. For some types of thyroid cancer it is possible for cancer to show itself again many many years later and that is why it is sometimes necessary to carry on with follow up for so long.