Thyrogen® Now Available During Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Two injections allow patients to stay on thyroid hormone replacement during ablation therapy
After surgeons removed her thyroid gland in February, Judy Davidson-Roth was thrilled to learn she would be one of the first patients to benefit from Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) new Thyrogen® program. The injectable drug allows patients to stay on thyroid medication while undergoing a procedure called radioactive iodine ablation. Ablation, a nuclear medicine treatment, is given soon after surgery and annually, if needed, to destroy remaining thyroid cancer cells.
“I’m a breast cancer survivor,” says the 72-year-old Orefield woman. “I experienced chemotherapy side effects, so this treatment for my thyroid cancer didn’t sound bad at all.”
To prepare for an ablation, patients follow a low-iodine diet for two weeks prior to Thyrogen injections. This allows any remaining thyroid cancer cells to be more receptive to the radioactive iodine treatment. “In the past, patients had to go off their thyroid- regulating medication to allow thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels to increase,” says endocrinologist Sharmila Subaran, MD, medical director of LVHN’s endocrine testing service at the Diagnostic Care Center inside Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest.
Increasing TSH levels by using Thyrogen enhances the success of the thyroid cancer treatment – and more, says endocrinologist Natia Potter, MD, with LVPG Endocrinology in Hazleton. “The injections help prevent hypothyroidism symptoms like weight gain, fatigue and achiness,” Potter says.
Davidson-Roth worked closely with LVHN’s multidisciplinary team, a collaboration among the endocrine testing laboratory, pre-certification department, nuclear medicine and pharmacy department. The team individualizes patient care and coordinates Thyrogen injections, ablations and scans at one convenient location in the Diagnostic Care Center at LVH–Cedar Crest. Injections are also available at the Health & Wellness Center in Hazleton.
Patients are carefully guided through the multistep process and also receive plenty of comfort. “In addition to coordinating the injection times and scanning process, nurses provide newly diagnosed thyroid cancer patients with much needed emotional support,” says Roberta Hower, RN, nurse coordinator for endocrine testing.
Support through treatment Davidson-Roth started a low-iodine diet two weeks before her ablation. Then in April, she received Thyrogen injections on two consecutive days and underwent the ablation procedure the following morning. Now cancer-free, Davidson-Roth is grateful for the support she received. “Everything was located together at the hospital to make things simple,” she says. “The nurses and doctors really helped me through a difficult time.” Learn more about thyroid cancer treatment. Visit LVHN.org/thyroidcancer