4 doctors weighed in:

Radioactive iodine for thyroid cancer? How does this work? Where do they inject it? Will it make me radioactive? How can I live without a thyroid? I need this explained in simple words.

4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Ryan Stewart
Pediatrics - Endocrinology
2 doctors agree

In brief: Oral medication

Your thyroid gland needs iodine to make thyroid hormone.
Radioactive iodine is effectively a targeted chemotherapy that is absorbed by your thyroid gland including the thyroid cancer. The radioactive iodine kills the thyroid tissue and not any other cells in your body. Radioactive iodine is taken orally. You can replace what your gland made with oral thyorid hormone once your gland is killed.

In brief: Oral medication

Your thyroid gland needs iodine to make thyroid hormone.
Radioactive iodine is effectively a targeted chemotherapy that is absorbed by your thyroid gland including the thyroid cancer. The radioactive iodine kills the thyroid tissue and not any other cells in your body. Radioactive iodine is taken orally. You can replace what your gland made with oral thyorid hormone once your gland is killed.
Dr. Ryan Stewart
Dr. Ryan Stewart
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Dr. Michael Wolfe
ENT - Head & Neck Surgery

In brief: Iodine

Iodine is avidly taken up by thyroid and most thyroid cancers.
By making the iodine radioactive, the radioactivity is taken directly to the thyroid and thyroid cancer cells and kills them. Other areas of the body are less affected but higher and multiple doses can start causing side effects. It is usually taken as a pill. Yes, you will be radioactive for up to 4 days. You should have minimal contact with people during that time. I would recommend not letting that fact deter you from getting a needed treatment that may prevent the thyroid cancer from returning in the long run. People live without the thyroid by taking thyroid hormone pills. The right dosage is found by starting a dose based on weight then adjusting it slowly every 4-6 weeks. It is usually pretty close the first time. I hope this helps.

In brief: Iodine

Iodine is avidly taken up by thyroid and most thyroid cancers.
By making the iodine radioactive, the radioactivity is taken directly to the thyroid and thyroid cancer cells and kills them. Other areas of the body are less affected but higher and multiple doses can start causing side effects. It is usually taken as a pill. Yes, you will be radioactive for up to 4 days. You should have minimal contact with people during that time. I would recommend not letting that fact deter you from getting a needed treatment that may prevent the thyroid cancer from returning in the long run. People live without the thyroid by taking thyroid hormone pills. The right dosage is found by starting a dose based on weight then adjusting it slowly every 4-6 weeks. It is usually pretty close the first time. I hope this helps.
Dr. Michael Wolfe
Dr. Michael Wolfe
Thank
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