The relative frequency in which empiric dosages of radioiodine would potentially overtreat or undertreat patients who have metastatic well-differentiated thyroid cancer

Thyroid. 2006 Oct;16(10):1019-23. doi: 10.1089/thy.2006.16.1019.


The dosage of (131)I for the treatment of metastatic well-differentiated thyroid cancer is typically selected empirically. Benua and Leeper implemented a method to estimate the maximum dosages of (131)I that could be administered to a patient so as not to exceed a maximum tolerated radiation absorbed dose (MTD), which was defined as 200 rads (cGy) to the blood. The objective of this study was to determine the frequency of (131)I treatments in which the patient (1) would have exceeded the MTD (i.e., overtreatment) or (2) would have been able to receive higher dosages of (131)I thereby delivering a potentially higher radiation absorbed dose to their metastases (i.e., undertreatment) had the patient been administered various assumed empiric dosages of (131)I. The dosimetrically-determined maximum tolerated radioactivities (MTA) to deliver 200 rads to the blood (MTD) were tabulated at our facility. Data were then grouped to determine the percentage of patients who would have received less than or more than the MTD for various assumed empiric dosages of (131)I. A total of 127 dosimetries were performed. For assumed empiric dosages of (131)I (100 mCi, 150 mCi, 200 mCi, 250 mCi, and 300 mCi), the percentage of treatments for which patients would have exceeded the MTD were less than 1%, 5%, 11%, 17%, and 22%, respectively, and could have received a higher dosage of (131)I were more than 99%, 95%, 89%, 83%, and 78%, respectively. A significant number of patients receiving various empiric dosages of (131)I may exceed 200 rads (cGy) to the blood (potential overtreating). Likewise, the majority of patients may be able to receive much higher dosages of (131)I relative to empiric dosages thereby delivering potentially higher radiation absorbed doses to the metastases without exceeding 200 rads (cGy) to the blood (potential undertreating).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Radiation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / adverse effects*
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / radiotherapy
  • Male
  • Maximum Tolerated Dose
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy*


  • Iodine Radioisotopes