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What is the role of radioactive iodine in thyroid cancer treatment?

After total thyroidectomy for cancer, if patients meet certain criteria, they may be given a dose of radioactive iodine (RAI) to destroy (i.e. ablate) the remaining thyroid tissue. This treatment is usually done 6 to 8 weeks after the thyroidectomy. In addition, during their follow-up, if the thyroglobulin level rises, an RAI scan may be ordered looking for recurrent disease. If there is recurrent or metastatic disease, a larger dose of RAI may be given to ablate them. Depending on the amount needed to destroy the cells, you may need to be hospitalized to monitor you and reduce the risk of radiation exposure to family and friends. Typically, only one dose of RAI ablation is needed. It is critical to consult with a thyroid specialist who can help determine the need, ideal dose, and safe administration of RAI for thyroid cancer.

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