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Is "Radioactive Iodine Treatment" radiation?

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2006

I am about to have the RAI done, and I'm a little confused. I understand what is involved, but I am having a hard time explaining it to family and friends. They keep asking me if it is radiation? Is it, technically? Am I having radiation done? Or is this RAI not considered radiation? The only terms people seem to be familiar with are "radiation" and "chemo". Am I going to go through radiation? Please help me understand!

alliesnene's picture
Posts: 20
Joined: May 2005

Hi Barbara,
RAI is a form of radiation, not the external beam radiation that most people know about. When you see the radiologist for your scan dose, he/she will supply you with information re:RAI, precautions, etc.... Side effects of RAI are minimal, the worse part is being hypo in preparation for your dose. Please feel free to email me here if you have any questions at all.
Take Care,

Posts: 6
Joined: Jun 2006

yes it is radiation but they give you enough to knock the cancer out. I had papillary carcanoma and they took out my thyroid, parathyroid, and 9 lymph nodes and 7 had cancer on them so the next step was radiation.
How Does Radiation Work to Treat Cancer?

Radiation is energy that is carried by waves or a stream of particles that can alter the genetic code (DNA) and a variety of molecules of a cell. This genetic code controls how cells in the body grow and divide. To understand how radiation works as a treatment, it is helpful to understand the normal life cycle of a cell in the body. The cell cycle is made of 5 phases.

The Cell Cycle

G0 = Resting stage

G1 = RNA and protein synthesis

S = DNA synthesis

G2 = Construction of mitotic apparatus

M = Mitosis
G0 phase (resting stage): Cells have not yet started to divide. Cells spend much of their lives in this phase. Depending on the type of cell, this step can last for a few hours to many years. When the cell is signaled to reproduce, it moves into the G1 phase.

G1 phase: During this phase, the cell starts making more proteins to get ready to divide. This phase lasts about 18 to 30 hours.

S phase: In the S phase, the chromosomes containing the genetic code (DNA) are copied so that both of the new cells formed will have the right amount of DNA. This phase lasts about 18 to 20 hours.

G2 phase: The G2 phase is just before the cell starts splitting into 2 cells. It lasts from 2 to10 hours.

M phase (mitosis): In this phase, which lasts only 30 to 60 minutes, the cell actually splits into 2 new cells.

This cell cycle is important in cancer treatment because radiation is usually more effective on cells that are actively or quickly dividing. It is less effective on cells that are in the resting phase (G0) or are dividing slowly. Radiosensitivity is a term used to describe how vulnerable a cell is to radiation damage.

Radiation therapy attacks reproducing cancer cells, but it can also affect reproducing cells of normal tissues. The damage to normal cells is what causes side effects. Each time radiation therapy is given it involves a balance between destroying the cancer cells and sparing the normal cells.

In the past, it was thought that once an area was treated with radiation that it could not be treated again with radiation because of damage to the normal cells in the treatment area. But recent research suggests that in some situations, a second course of radiation therapy can be given.

but that's the scientific way you can go to http://www.cancer.org and search under I131 it'll tell you about Ionizing radiation I131 that they use it uses Iodine in the radiation which only binds to the thyroid area of the body so basically It hits anywhere in the body that the cancer would have gone to. I just had it done in April the worst part is becoming completely hypo and not having a thyroid level at all you feel horrible just make sure during the time possibly if you work take vacation time about two weeks after off the medicine because you'll want to sleep.

you stay in a room for 3 days, be glad it was now and not in the past it use to be like 8 weeks in the hospital, and best thing to do is take as many showers as possible and drink drink drink. wake up and drink water or cranberry juice or any kind of drink what so ever but that way you can get out on that third day. when you go in you can't have visitors for those days so bring magazines that you can throw away and crossword puzzles or such. but good luck and i hope i got this to you before you had it done.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2006

I could not tell from your question if you were having the RAI done for cancer or not. If not, a lot of people get RAI who have hyperthyroid conditions. It's described well at the National Graves Disease website (www.ngdf.org) in the bulletin board section. Just do a search on RAI and you'll sure get a lot about it.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2007

Hi all

I find this chat room really useful. I'm based in the UK. Had 3 surgeries to date, diagnosed in October 2005. I need another large dose of radioiodine. Apparently, radioiodine increases the risk of having other types of cancer by 30%.
Anyone can enlighten me re this?

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