Vol 27, No 1 (2022)
Research paper
Published online: 2022-01-24

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Adjuvant I-131 therapy for T0–3 N1b M0 differentiated thyroid cancer with many (≥ 5) positive nodes

E. Charles Fortune IV1, Catherine E. Mercado1, Peter A. Drew2, Christopher G. Morris1, Robert J. Amdur1
Rep Pract Oncol Radiother 2022;27(1):121-124.


Background: In patients with well-differentiated thyroid cancer, there is controversy about the prognostic importance of a large number of positive neck nodes and the potential value of radioiodine therapy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate this issue in the group of patients for whom it is most clinically important — those with classic histology and favorable T and M stage.

Materials and methods: Twenty-five patients met the following inclusion criteria: classic histology of papillary or follicular thyroid carcinoma treated with total thyroidectomy and neck dissection followed by adjuvant I-131 treatment in our department between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2013; adult age of > 21 years; and AJCC stage (8th edition) of T0–3, N1b with ≥ 5 positive nodes, and M0.

Results: The median positive node number was 10 (range, 5–31). The median adjuvant I-131 dose was 158 mCi (range, 150–219 mCi). The median follow-up in patients without recurrence after treatment was 7.3 years. The 10-year actuarial rates were favorable: overall survival, 100%; freedom from visible recurrence, 82%; and visible or biochemical recurrence, 72%.

Conclusion: Recurrence was infrequent in our study population with ≥ 5 positive nodes following moderate-dose adjuvant I-131 treatment. These results are valuable in directing initial adjuvant therapy and follow-up intensity. Our results do not inform the question of the use of postoperative Tg level to select N1b patients for low-dose I-131 treatment.  

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