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Open Access Study protocol

Recurrent differentiated thyroid cancer: towards personalized treatment based on evaluation of tumor characteristics with PET (THYROPET Study): study protocol of a multicenter observational cohort study

Jakob W Kist1*, Bart de Keizer2, Marcel PM Stokkel1, Otto S Hoekstra3, Wouter V Vogel1 and THYROPET study group

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nuclear Medicine, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, Utrecht 3584 CX, The Netherlands

3 Department of Nuclear Medicine & PET research, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, Amsterdam 1081 HZ, The Netherlands

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:405  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-405

Published: 5 June 2014

Abstract

Background

After initial treatment of differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) patients are followed with thyroglobulin (Tg) measurements to detect recurrences. In case of elevated levels of Tg and negative neck ultrasonography, patients are treated 'blindly' with Iodine-131 (131I). However, in up to 50% of patients, the post-therapy scan reveals no 131I-targeting of tumor lesions. Such patients derive no benefit from the blind therapy but are exposed to its toxicity. Alternatively, iodine-124 (124I) Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) has become available to visualize DTC lesions and without toxicity. In addition to this, 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) PET/CT detects the recurrent DTC phenotype, which lost the capacity to accumulate iodine. Taken together, the combination of 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT has potential to stratify patients for treatment with 131I.

Methods/Design

In a multicenter prospective observational cohort study the hypothesis that the combination of 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT can avoid futile 131I treatments in patients planned for ‘blind’ therapy with 131I, is tested.

One hundred patients planned for 131I undergo both 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT after rhTSH stimulation. Independent of the outcome of the scans, all patients will subsequently receive, after thyroid hormone withdrawal, the 131I therapy. The post 131I therapeutic scintigraphy is compared with the outcome of the 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT in order to evaluate the diagnostic value of the combined PET modalities.

This study primary aims to reduce the number of futile 131I therapies. Secondary aims are the nationwide introduction of 124I PET/CT by a quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) program, to correlate imaging outcome with histopathological features, to compare 124I PET/CT after rhTSH and after withdrawal of thyroid hormone, and to compare 124I and 131I dosimetry.

Discussion

This study aims to evaluate the potential value of the combination of 124I and 18F-FDG PET/CT in the prevention of futile 131I therapies in patients with biochemically suspected recurrence of DTC. To our best knowledge no studies addressed this in a prospective cohort of patients. This is of great clinical importance as a futile 131I is a costly treatment associated with morbidity and therefore should be restricted to those likely to benefit from this treatment.

Trial registration

Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT01641679

Keywords:
Thyroid cancer; Recurrence; 124I; 18F-FDG; PET/CT; Cross-calibration; Thyropet