Meet Arfur, a 15-year-old ginger gent who was referred to Willows Internal Medicine team in October ‘19 with uncontrolled hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition found in older cats and is caused by an over-active thyroid gland. In 98% of cats, this is a benign condition. However, in a very small percentage of cats, this can be due to a malignant tumour in the thyroid gland.
Arfur was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in March ‘18 and initially responded very well to oral medications. Unfortunately, Arfur soon became resistant to his medications. Resistance to medication can be an indication of cancer in the thyroid gland. As such, Arfur’s local Vet promptly referred him to Willows Specialist-led Radioactive Iodine team for further investigation.
Willows is home to one of the country’s few Specialist-led Radioactive Iodine (RAI) services providing expert treatment for cats with hyperthyroidism.
Radioactive Iodine therapy (RAI) allows abnormal thyroid hormone-producing cells to be targeted. RAI is injected under the skin (like a vaccination). The thyroid gland then takes this up so that other parts of the body are not affected. The RAI releases radiation that destroys the overactive thyroid glands and stops them from producing excessive hormone.
RAI is the safest and most effective treatment for hyperthyroidism. Unlike medical therapy with tablets, RAI cures hyperthyroidism, meaning there is no need for lifelong medications or invasive surgery.
Our RAI patients stay with us for 15 days in our specialised unit following the administration of the RAI injection, allowing our team to closely monitor their progress and minimise the people who are exposed to the radiation – it’s a fully-catered feline holiday!
Arfur underwent his first RAI therapy in November 2019. Despite RAI therapy, Arfur was found to still be hyperthyroid, indicating that he had a thyroid carcinoma.
For cats with thyroid cancer that causes hyperthyroidism, much higher doses of RAI are required. As Arfur required a much higher RAI dose, Willows RAI suite was privately reserved for our very special guest to undergo high dose Radioactive Iodine therapy in January ‘20. After this therapy, Arfur’s thyroid hormone was finally low, so low that it was undetectable! Arfur is now on replacement thyroid hormone for life to keep his levels normal.
Two weeks later, Arfur returned home to his family, feeling like his normal self for the first time in five months (and perhaps even 1.5 years!). His owners were pleased to report his appetite, weight, and general happiness was returning to normal.
We are overjoyed to report that Arfur has been back to visit our team for follow-up appointments twice in the past year, and we are so pleased to share that he remains in remission and continues to do really well.
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