Differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) is usually treated by thyroidectomy followed by radioiodine ablation and generally has a good prognosis. It may now be possible to limit the amount of treatment without impacting on efficacy. It is not known whether coexistent thyroiditis impacts on radioiodine uptake or on its potential efficacy, but this could provide a rationale for modification to current therapeutic protocols.
This was a retrospective cohort study of radioiodine uptake on imaging after radioiodine ablation for DTC in patients with and without concurrent thyroiditis. All patients with histologically confirmed DTC treated with radioiodine ablation after thyroidectomy in a single centre from 2012 to 2015 were included. The primary outcome assessed was the presence of low or no iodine uptake on post-ablation scan, as reported by a nuclear medicine physician blinded to the presence or absence of thyroiditis.
One hundred thirty patients with available histopathology results were included. Thyroiditis was identified in 42 post-operative specimens and 15 of these patients had low or no iodine uptake on post-ablation scan, compared to only 2 of 88 patients without thyroiditis (P < 0.0001) with further data analysis dividing the groups by ablation activity received (1100 MBq or 3000 MBq).
Concurrent thyroiditis may impair the uptake of radioactive iodine in management of DTC. Given that patients with DTC and thyroiditis already have a good prognosis, adopting a more selective approach to this step in therapy may be indicated. Large, longitudinal studies would be required to determine if omitting radioactive iodine therapy from those patients with concurrent thyroiditis has a measurable impact on mortality from thyroid cancer.