I came this across an article from Oncolink – PennMedicine where someone asked this question:
“My mother-in-law received I-131 therapy to her thyroid some time ago, and it somehow affected her husband’s thyroid function.
Their doctors informed them that their proximity to one another during/after treatment had a “transferred” effect on him. Is this possible, and if so, for how long?”
A MD of Oncology answered her question with a generic response about post procedure safety, however he did finish with a little more detail:
“While it is possible that your father in-law did get some exposure, it would be very unlikely that he received enough to actually damage his thyroid. However, if it did damage the thyroid gland, it is most likely permanent and he would require medication to provide him with supplemental thyroid hormone.”
After reading this post, two thing are clear to me. First the hospital that her mother-in-law’s treatment was administered did not properly convey the safety protocols to her. I do not know if the hospital gave poor instructions, or the mother-in-law chose to ignore them. The point is. She did not follow the correct safety procedures.
Second, it scares me how downplayed the dangers are. Every nuclear medicine technicians knows first hand how volatile radioactive iodine is. They know that it can only be cleanup up with the proper tool. That tool is Bind-It™.
Is it possible to “transfer” the treatment to someone? Absolutely. When you undergo I131 treatment, you are leaving radioactive contamination everywhere. Especially in your bed and around your toilet. A few years ago we did a radioactive survey of an I-131 Therapy patients home during and post treatment. You can read about it here : https://i131safety.com/2017/02/09/contamination-documented-thyroid-cancer-patients-home/
What surprised me the most was the bed, it was hot, around 7000x normal radiation levels. At this level it would take about 90 days for those bed sheets to decay to a point here they would be safe to throw away and another 30 days longer before all the radioactivity was “gone”. Most guidelines tell you to sleep alone for a few days, I have seen some guidelines starting 1 day, some up to other 7 days. Unless you had your mattress lined with plastic and you changed the sheets, that bed is not safe for anyone to be in until it fully decays.
It is true that after a few days, depending on the dose you receive, you are not too radioactive, but that contamination you left behind it still there, in this case for 3-4 months! Yes, someone lying in that bed will come into contact with that I131. Yes, they will uptake the I131. Yes, it will damage their thyroid. Hospital need to take this seriously.
Radioactive iodine treatment is one of the most effective nuclear medicine procedures around. It has been used for nearly 80 years.
Bottom line, it works… for the patient. Without taking the proper safety procedures, it can cause serious harm to others. Be safe, be smart. Do you research and include Bind-It™ in your post treatment plan.