"My mother is going to be getting radiation for thyroid issue, not cancer, I think because it's enlarged. I'm told that she will have to be isolated for a few days after treatment what type of treatment would this be? What I read on line doesn't seem to be this severe."
I will assume your mom is receiving Radioiodine therapy for an enlarged thyroid either from Graves Disease, Toxic Multinodular Goiter or a Toxic Adenoma. Without getting into the controversy of using radioiodine therapy for these conditions (vs. other medical or surgical options) let’s talk about how this works and what to expect.
Radioiodine is administered by mouth as sodium 131-I in solution or a capsule. The radioiodine is rapidly incorporated into the thyroid, and its emissions result in extensive local tissue damage. The net effect of this is ablation of thyroid function over a period of six to 18 weeks.
What about household contacts? Patients who receive radioiodine have the potential to contaminate their home and household via contact with saliva, urine, or via radiation emitting from their neck. They should be instructed to avoid sharing cups or utensils, sexual contact, and close contact with children and pregnant women for one week.
Is it safe? Radioiodine appears to be quite safe aside from causing hypothyroidism as is to be expected. The only definite complication is a 1 percent (or lower) incidence of radiation Thyroiditis which can cause severe thyroid pain that can last two to three weeks. Most data indicate there is no increased risk of leukemia or cancer after radioiodine use however there is a slight but statistically significant increase in later overall mortality.
- Dr O.
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