Objectives: Currently, little is known about the prognostic significance of achieving successful ablation with the first dosage of I-131 in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer. This study aimed to assess the following: (i) whether successful or unsuccessful ablation at post-ablation follow-up has prognostic consequences; (ii) possible factors predicting success of ablation in a patient.
Methods: In order to do this, we retrospectively studied 180 patients with a median follow-up of 55 months. Ablation was considered to be successful if 1 year after the initial dosage of I-131 patients fulfilled all of the following criteria: not dead from thyroid cancer, no additional therapy needed for any kind for thyroid cancer within the first year, undetectable thyroglobulin (Tg) levels under TSH stimulation, and negative I-131 scintigraphy. Tg levels at the time of ablation (P < .001), lymph node metastasis (P = 0.04) and distant metastasis (P < .001) have a significant influence on the success of ablation. P values were calculated by Mann–Whitney U test and Chi-square test, respectively.
Results: Patients with successful ablation had a better prognosis than those with unsuccessful ablation: disease-free survival was 87% versus 49% after 10 years; additionally, thyroid-cancer related survival was 93% versus 78%.
Conclusion: We conclude that the extent of the remaining normal or neoplastic thyroid tissue influences the outcome of ablation, and that successful ablation leads to a better prognosis. It seems that it is very important to achieve complete ablation as soon as possible in order to ensure the best possible prognosis for a patient.