Smyers to undergo radioactive iodine treatment

A statement released by Dr. William Burtis, Karen Smyers' endocrinologist at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., said the 38-year-old triathlete has papillary carcinoma of the thyroid.

It is a well-differentiated thyroid cancer, Burtis said, meaning it is much more slowly progressing and different from lung and breast cancer (which) are rapidly progressing. As long as this is addressed and followed by an endocrinologist, the progression is very good with this type of cancer.

The 10-year survival rate with this type of cancer is about 98 percent," Burtis added. "The fact that (Smyers) is an elite athlete in optimum physical condition, Im sure, is all to her benefit.

Smyers will be given radioactive iodine treatment, which she will take orally. The treatment is expected to kill the rest of the cancerous thyroid and any remaining cancer cells, she said. She has been told she may only require one treatment.

Since Smyers will be radioactive for a few days during the treatment, she will have to stay away from children for about a week, she said. She will then start taking a thyroid hormone, and will be able to return to competitive training within two weeks to a month after the treatment.

Where you are without your thyroid hormone, youre going to feel very lethargic and not feel like doing several workouts a day, Smyers said.

Smyers put off the treatment to avoid any reaction while training for the Olympic trials scheduled for April 16 in Sydney. If she qualifies for the U.S. Olympic team, she will undergo treatment shortly after, leaving sufficient time to recover and train for the Olympics in Sydney.

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