Salivary Dysfunctions and Consequences After Radioiodine Treatment for Thyroid Cancer: Protocol for a Self-Controlled Study (START Study)

Clémence Baudin, Charlotte Lussey-Lepoutre, Alice Bressand, Camille Buffet, Fabrice Menegaux, Marine Soret, David Broggio, Céline Bassinet, Christelle Huet, Gemma Armengol, Laurence Leenhardt, Marie-Odile Bernier

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Following radioiodine (131I) therapy of differentiated thyroid cancer, the salivary glands may become inflamed, leading to dysfunctions and decreases in patients’ nutritional status and quality of life. The incidence of these dysfunctions after 131I-therapy is poorly known, and no clinical or genetic factors have been identified to date to define at-risk patients, which would allow the delivered activity to be adapted to the expected risk of salivary dysfunctions.

The aims of this study are to estimate the incidence of salivary dysfunctions, and consequences on the quality of life and nutritional status for patients after 131I-therapy; to characterize at-risk patients of developing posttreatment dysfunctions using clinical, biomolecular, and biochemical factors; and to validate a dosimetric method to calculate the dose received at the salivary gland level for analyzing the dose-response relationship between absorbed doses to salivary glands and salivary dysfunctions.

This prospective study aims to include patients for whom 131I-therapy is indicated as part of the treatment for differentiated thyroid cancer in a Paris hospital (40 and 80 patients in the 1.1 GBq and 3.7 GBq groups, respectively). The follow-up is based on three scheduled visits: at inclusion (T0, immediately before 131I-therapy), and at 6 months (T6) and 18 months (T18) posttreatment. For each visit, questionnaires on salivary dysfunctions (validated French tool), quality of life (Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale, Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form Survey), and nutritional status (visual analog scale) are administered by a trained clinical research associate. At T0 and T6, saliva samples and individual measurements of the salivary flow, without and with salivary glands stimulation, are performed. External thermoluminescent dosimeters are positioned on the skin opposite the salivary glands and at the sternal fork immediately before 131I administration and removed after 5 days. From the doses recorded by the dosimeters, an estimation of the dose received at the salivary glands will be carried out using physical and computational phantoms. Genetic and epigenetic analyses will be performed to search for potential biomarkers of the predisposition to develop salivary dysfunctions after 131I-therapy.

A total of 139 patients (99 women, 71.2%; mean age 47.4, SD 14.3 years) were enrolled in the study between September 2020 and April 2021 (45 and 94 patients in the 1.1 GBq and 3.7G Bq groups, respectively). T6 follow-up is complete and T18 follow-up is currently underway. Statistical analyses will assess the links between salivary dysfunctions and absorbed doses to the salivary glands, accounting for associated factors. Moreover, impacts on the patients’ quality of life will be analyzed.

To our knowledge, this study is the first to investigate the risk of salivary dysfunctions (using both objective and subjective indicators) in relation to organ (salivary glands) doses, based on individual dosimeter records and dose reconstructions. The results will allow the identification of patients at risk of salivary dysfunctions and will permit clinicians to propose a more adapted follow-up and/or countermeasures to adverse effects.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere35565
Number of pages11
JournalJMIR research protocols
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2022


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