Radioactive Iodine (RAI)

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ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer
Survivors' Association, Inc.
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Radioactive Iodine
(RAI)
Disclaimer
Low Iodine Recipes
The Low-Iodine Diet
Your Hospital Stay
Most thyroid cancer patients undergo scans at periodic
intervals using a "tracer" dose of radioactive iodine (RAI). If
their scan is not "clean", they then undergo a larger dose of
RAI in an attempt to destroy any remaining thyroid cells in their
bodies.
In preparation for a scan, many patients are asked to go on a
low-iodine diet. The point of a low-iodine diet is to deplete the
body of its natural stores of iodine which makes the radioactive
iodine treatment more effective. The premise is that when the
radioactive iodine is administered, the thyroid will "suck" up the
iodine because it has been so depleted.
The following is a conglomerate of diet guidelines issued by
several doctors who have answered our questions regarding a
low-iodine diet. Your doctor might have different guide lines.
Please check with him or her first.
The Low-Iodine Diet
Thyroid cancer patients with papillary or follicular thyroid
cancer often receive a dose of radioactive iodine (RAI) about
two months after their surgery in an attempt to destroy (ablate)
any remaining thyroid cells in their bodies.
Most thyroid cancer patients also undergo scans at periodic
intervals using a “tracer” dose of RAI. If their scan is not
“clean”, they then receive treatment with a larger dose of RAI in
an attempt to destroy any remaining thyroid cells in their
bodies.
In preparation for a RAI scan or a RAI treatment, patients are
usually asked to go on a low-iodine diet. The purpose of a lowiodine diet is to deplete the body of its natural stores of iodine
to help make the radioactive iodine treatment more effective.
The premise is that when the radioactive iodine is
administered, the thyroid cells will “suck” up the iodine because
it has been so depleted.
This diet is for a short period. The usual time period is around
two weeks or slightly more. The diet usually begins around two
weeks before testing and continues through the testing and
treatment period. However, recommendations for the time
period can vary, depending partly on the individual patient’s
circumstances.
The following is a combination of diet guidelines issued from a
number of sources, including researchers who have led
sessions at ThyCa conferences and workshops and several
doctors who have answered our questions regarding low-iodine
diet. Your physician may have different guidelines. Please
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