Enhancing Comfort and Care: Supporting Patients Undergoing Radioactive Iodine Treatment

When patients have Radioactive Treatment they may have to stay as an inpatient in a special isolation room as they will be slightly radioactive for a period of time. It is important that their stay is made as comfortable as possible. A small touch is providing their own refreshments, so they can make a hot drink themselves without leaving the facility. It is a small but simple provision from the Sussex Cancer Fund that can make a big difference. The money was raised by Amy Gough, Thyroid Lead Macmillan Cancer Nurse specialist, who helped raise money for the unit through a massive sponsored swim – thank you Amy and all the supporters. With the money raised, we have provided a new kettle, a selection of teas and coffee,

together with storage boxes to keep them fresh for the unit at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. The storage boxes are also plastic making them easy to clean between each patient for infection control.

How does Radioactive Iodine Work

The thyroid gland plays a significant role in absorbing and storing iodine from certain foods to produce vital thyroid hormones. Radioactive iodine treatment falls under the category of internal radiotherapy. It utilises a radioactive variant of iodine known as iodine-131 (I-131), which travels throughout the body via the bloodstream. This radioactive iodine is primarily absorbed by thyroid gland cells and has minimal impact on other cells.

Within the thyroid gland, the radioactive iodine is taken up by the cells, subjecting them to a high dose of radiation. This targeted radiation effectively destroys both the thyroid cells and any cancerous cells present. Unfortunately, due to the nature of radioactivity, patients must spend some time in isolation to prevent exposing others to radiation. So the patients having this treatment are isolated in a hospital room for 48 hours, so having their own hot drink facilities just makes the isolation process a little easier.

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