Treatment of High Risk DTC Patients

External Beam Radiation in Differentiated Thyroid Carcinoma

Salem Billan and Tomer Charas


The treatment of differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) is surgery followed in some cases by adjuvant treatment, mostly with radioactive iodine (RAI). External beam radiotherapy (EBRT) is less common and not a well-established treatment modality in DTC. The risk of recurrence depends on three major prognostic factors: extra-thyroid extension, patient’s age, and tumor with reduced iodine uptake. Increased risk for recurrence is a major factor in the decision whether to treat the patient with EBRT. Data about the use of EBRT in DTC are limited to small retrospective studies. Most series have demonstrated an increase in loco-regional control. The risk/benefit from giving EBRT requires careful patient selection. Different scoring systems have been proposed by different investigators and centers. The authors encourage clinicians treating DTC to become familiarized with those scoring systems and to use them in the management of different cases. The irradiated volume should include areas of risk for microscopic disease. Determining those areas in each case can be difficult and requires detailed knowledge of the surgery and pathological results, and also understanding of the disease-spreading pattern. Treatment with EBRT in DTC can be beneficial, and data support the use of EBRT in high-risk patients. Randomized controlled trials are needed for better confirmation of the role of EBRT.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2016;7(1):e0008