Efficacy of radioiodine therapy for treating 20 patients with pulmonary metastases from differentiated thyroid cancer and a meta-analysis of the current literature

Clin Transl Oncol. 2018 Jul;20(7):928-935. doi: 10.1007/s12094-017-1792-1. Epub 2017 Nov 8.


Background: Radioiodine therapy (RAI) after total or near-total thyroidectomy is a recommended treatment for patients with pulmonary metastasis from differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC). However, the total effective rate of iodine-131 therapy remains controversial. This study aimed to determine the efficacy of RAI for treating patients with pulmonary metastasis from DTC, and to identify independent predictors of its efficacy.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study to evaluate 20 patients with pulmonary metastasis from DTC who underwent RAI at our center at first and performed a meta-analysis to evaluate relevant literature regarding the overall efficacy of RAI and subgroup-specific efficacies subsequently.

Results: The efficacy rate at our center was 40%, and no significant differences were observed according to sex, age, pathological type, metastasis state, or interval between the initial RAI and final surgery. The meta-analysis revealed that the pooled overall efficacy rate was 58%, and significant differences were observed when we compared pulmonary metastasis versus pulmonary and other distant metastasis, age of < 40 years versus age of ≥ 40 years, papillary thyroid cancer versus follicular thyroid cancer and male patients versus female patients.

Conclusions: These results suggest that RAI is an effective treatment for patients with pulmonary metastasis from DTC after surgical treatment. The efficacy of RAI was significantly predicted by the presence of papillary thyroid cancer, age of < 40 years, the absence of non-lung distant metastasis and female patients.

Keywords: Differentiated thyroid cancer; Efficacy; Meta-analysis; Pulmonary metastasis; Radioiodine therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma, Follicular / radiotherapy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Bone Neoplasms / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Iodine Radioisotopes