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Thyroid facts

Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RAI) & Radioactive Iodine Therapy & Follow Up Screening

Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RAI)

Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RAI) can be recommended for patients who have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and have recently had a total thyroidectomy to remove the cancer. This RAI Treatment is called thyroid ablation. The patient will be admitted to a RAI Treatment Room in hospital to undergo this treatment. The patient will be given a RAI tablet to swallow. The tablet is used to kill off any remaining cancerous cells in the body.

The patient may also be given a man-made recombinant human thyroid-stimulating hormone (rhTSH). This hormone helps cells take up the radioactive iodine substance. The radio-active substance absorbs and then targets thyroid cancer cells. Thyroid cells absorb iodine, and the radiation destroys any remaining cells.

The patient will remain in hospital for at least 3 days during treatment and will return home, once the treatment has been completed.

Radioactive Iodine Therapy

This treatment is given to patients who still have thyroid cancer cells remaining in their body. The specialist doctor will determine when the patient should undergo the treatment.

Man-made recombinant human thyroid stimulating hormone (rhTSH) can also be given before this treatment.

Things to Know:

  • Patients are isolated during both treatments in a specially designed lead-lined RAI Treatment Room.
  • Pregnant Women and Children are Restricted from Visiting.
  • Other visitors must only stay for a very short period and stand a certain distance from the patient.
  • On leaving hospital, patients need to take extra care with food and drink preparation and eating, toileting and all body fluids.
  • All food preparation and utensils should be disposed of after use.
  • Clothes should be washed separately from others.
  • Patients should not have contact with small children, pregnant women or animals for a required amount of time.

Your treating doctor will advise how long you must adhere to these conditions.


Take some boiled lollies with you to hospital. Sucking boiled lollies help the salivary glands during treatment. Contact the Ward Nurse Unit Manager before you are admitted to ask what you are able to take with you into the room, including food, reading material, laptop, mobile phone and other personal items. A boomerang shaped pillow can aid your comfort and support, rather than using hospital pillows. Preparing for your stay can make a huge difference to your wellbeing whilst undergoing treatment.

Follow Up Screening

Two injections of Thyrogen are given a day apart, on the third day they receive a small dose of radioiodine. Two days later they have the Whole Body Scan (WBS) and pathology Tg Test. The tests following Thyrogen are comparable to those performed after stopping Levothyroxine. The patient does not become hypothyroid, however some patients might experience some short-lived headaches and nausea following the Thyrogen injections.

To find out whether Thyrogen is suitable for you, please discuss with your treating specialist.



Phone: +61 (0) 447 834 724
(If you would like to organise a phone chat, please email to organise a time, thank you!)

Mailing Address: PO Box 7161, Norwest NSW 2153, Australia


The mission of The Australian Thyroid Foundation Ltd (ATF) is to offer support, information and education to members and their families through the many services provided by The ATF and raise awareness about health consequences of iodine deficiency and the benefits of good thyroid health.

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