Having RAI treatment
You will be admitted to hospital on the day of the RAI treatment. You may be given anti-nausea medicine before the RAI pill.
RAI treatment will make you radioactive for a few days, and you will need to stay in hospital during this time. See this table for an outline of the safety measures that will be in place while you are having treatment.
Once the radiation has dropped to a safe level, you will be able to go home. If you had Thyrogen injections, this usually occurs within 36–48 hours. It may be a day longer if you stopped taking your thyroid hormone replacement medicine.
A few days after treatment, you will have a full body radioisotope scan to detect if any thyroid cancer cells are left in the body. It is normal to see an area of RAI uptake in the neck on this initial scan, due to small amounts of healthy thyroid tissue remaining in your neck after surgery. The RAI will take several months to destroy this tissue.
The radioisotope scan may also show if cancer has spread to your lymph nodes or other areas of your body.
|If you or your partner want to have a baby after RAI treatment, talk to your doctor. RAI may have a short-term effect on eggs and sperm, so you’ll be advised to use contraception for a time (usually 6 months for women, 3–6 months for men). Women also need to check that their thyroid hormone levels are normal before trying to get pregnant.|
A/Prof Diana Learoyd, Endocrinologist, Northern Cancer Institute, and Northern Clinical School, The University of Sydney, NSW; Dr Gabrielle Cehic, Nuclear Medicine Physician and Oncologist, South Australia Medical Imaging (SAMI), and Senior Staff Specialist, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, SA; Dr Kiernan Hughes, Endocrinologist, Northern Endocrine and St Vincents Hospital, NSW; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Christine Lai, Senior Consultant Surgeon, Breast and Endocrine Surgical Unit, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Surgery, University of Adelaide, SA; A/Prof Nat Lenzo, Nuclear Physician and Specialist in Internal Medicine, Group Clinical Director, GenesisCare Theranostics, and The University of Western Australia, WA; Ilona Lillington, Clinical Nurse Consultant (Thyroid and Brachytherapy), Cancer Care Services, Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital, QLD; Jonathan Park, Consumer.
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