Iodine-131 treatment and high-resolution CT: results in patients with lung metastases from differentiated thyroid carcinoma

Ilgan, Seyfetin; Karacalioglu, A. Ozgur; Pabuscu, Yuksei; G. Kaan Atac; Arslan, Nuri; Ozturk, Emel; Gunalp, Bengul; Ozguven, M. Ali
June 2004
European Journal of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging;2004, Vol. 31 Issue 6, p825
Academic Journal
Between 1984 and 2002, pulmonary metastases were detected in 42 (4%) out of 1,023 patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) in our department. The age at diagnosis ranged from 6 to 77 years. Lung metastases were diagnosed by both increased thyroglobulin (Tg) levels and positive uptake of iodine-131 on scans, and/or positive radiological findings. The primary tumours were histologically classified as papillary (30 patients), follicular (nine patients) and poorly differentiated (two tall cell, one insular carcinoma). The duration of follow-up ranged from 24 to 228 months. The end-results of the 131I therapy were evaluated. The treatment of choice was 131I therapy of metastases after total thyroidectomy plus lymph node dissection (if lymph node metastases were present). Applied single and total 131I activities were 1.8–10.4 GBq and 5.5–43.7 GBq, respectively. Lung metastases were present at the time of diagnosis in 30 patients and developed during the follow-up period in the remaining 12. Twelve patients with extensive metastases died of thyroid carcinoma and another died due to secondary malignancy (malignant mesothelioma). Ten patients with lung metastases remain completely free of disease and are probably cured, while another seven were stable at the time of study. Three- and five-year survival rates were 86% (36/42) and 76% (32/42), respectively. To define the diagnostic value of high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) and identify the distinctive features of lung metastases from DTC, 22 patients were further examined with HRCT within 2 weeks of the initial diagnosis of lung metastases and the results were compared with chest X-ray findings. HRCT detected metastases in 10 out of 14 patients with a normal chest X-ray and confirmed metastases in all patients with positive (n=5) and suspicious (n=3) chest X-ray. HRCT did not show any abnormalities in four patients with positive lung uptake on 131I whole-body images. Stage of disease, existence of distance metastases other than to the lung, and HRCT characteristics were significant prognostic variables. Lung metastases from DTC can be cured with 131I therapy in a considerable number of patients, especially when they are not associated with other distant metastases; they should therefore be treated at an early stage. HRCT clearly improved diagnostic ability in the evaluation of lung metastases compared with chest X-ray and should be the primary method when radiological correlation is needed. The main, and new, finding of the study is that HRCT not only improves diagnostic ability but is also of prognostic value.


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