About 1.1% of the population will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer in their lifetime.1 Incidence of thyroid cancer has been increasing faster than any other cancer in the US, tripling in the past 3 decades.2 This rise in incidence is in large part due to enhanced diagnostic techniques that detect small thyroid nodules that may have been missed otherwise.2

As with other thyroid diseases, thyroid cancer is 3 times more prevalent in women than men.2 Women are also more likely to be younger when they develop thyroid cancer, as risk peaks for women in their 40s or 50s, whereas men are usually diagnosed in their 60s or 70s.3

Incidence of thyroid cancer has been increasing
faster than any other cancer in the US1

Indidence of thyroid cancer has been increasing faster than any other cancer in the US

Types of Thyroid Cancer4

The most common types of thyroid cancers—papillary and follicular cancers—develop in the cells that produce the thyroid hormone and resemble healthy tissue. They are sometimes referred to together as differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC).

  • Papillary thyroid cancer—The most common form of thyroid cancer and most often affects people ages 30–50
  • Follicular thyroid cancer—Usually affects people over age 50; a rare potentially more aggressive type of follicular thyroid cancer is called Hurthle cell cancer

Other classifications of thyroid cancer:

  • Medullary thyroid cancer—Begins in thyroid cells called C cells that produce the hormone calcitonin
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer—A rare, difficult-to-treat cancer that typically occurs in people age 60 or older
  • Thyroid lymphoma—A rare form of thyroid cancer that begins in the thyroids immune system cells; typically occurs in older adults

Radioactive iodine (RAI) is a therapy used in the treatment of some thyroid cancers, specifically papillary and follicular thyroid cancer. Other types of thyroid cancers are not susceptible to radioactive iodine intervention.

Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis

Physicians may use one or more procedures to diagnose thyroid cancer, such as a physical exam, biopsy, blood tests, or imaging tests. A common nuclear imaging test called a radioiodine scan may be used to detect thyroid cancer or to show if the cancer has spread in patients already diagnosed. For this test, a patient is given a small amount of radioactive iodine that is absorbed by thyroid cells, which may be seen using a special camera hours later.

Thyroid Cancer Treatment

Most people treated for thyroid cancer have most or all the thyroid surgically removed.4; After surgery, patients will need hormone therapy to replace the hormones once produced by the thyroid gland.

Radioactive iodine—also known as iodine-131—may also be given following surgery to destroy remaining thyroid cells and thyroid cancer that may have spread to other areas of the body. This is effective because thyroid cells naturally and selectively absorb iodine, a mineral found in foods such as iodized salt, dairy product, eggs, and some seafood. When radioactive iodine is given to a patient it is absorbed by thyroid cells—including cancer cells—which it then destroys.

Despite treatment, thyroid cancer can return, even if the thyroid has been removed.4 Recurrence most often occurs in the first 5 years after surgery, but it can come back decades later.4 This may be a result of thyroid cancer cells spreading beyond the thyroid bed area in the neck prior to surgery.4 Post-operative treatment with radioactive iodine has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of recurrence in DTC patients.5

The role of radioactive iodine in the treatment
of differentiated thyroid cancer

Jubilant DraxImage is committed to providing pharmaceuticalgrade radioactive iodine to enable physicians to accurately diagnose and treat thyroid cancer and help patients achieve and maintain remission.

The information provided above is not intended as medical advice. Patients must make sure that they have all the relevant information about their specific condition and discuss with their doctor to help make informed decisions about their therapy options.


  1. National Cancer Institute. SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Thyroid Cancer. Available at: seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/thyro.html. Accessed on May 2, 2016.
  2. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for thyroid cancer. Available at: www.cancer.org/cancer/thyroidcancer/detailedguide/thyroid-cancer- key-statistics. Accessed on May 2, 2016.
  3. American Cancer Society. Thyroid cancer risk factors. Available at: www.cancer.org/cancer/thyroidcancer/detailedguide/ thyroid-cancer-risk-factors. Accessed on May 2, 2016.
  4. MayoClinic. org. Thyroid Cancer. Available at: www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ thyroid-cancer/basics/definition/CON-20043551?p=1. Accessed on May 2, 2016. 5. Verburg FA, Stokkel MPM, Duren C, et al. No survival difference after successful 131I ablation between patients with initially low-risk and high-risk differentiated thyroid cancer. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2010;37:276–283.