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Hurthle Cell Thyroid Cancer: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

  • Posted on- Aug 26, 2015
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Hurthle cell thyroid cancer is an uncommon cancer that affects the thyroid gland and often known as Hurthle cell carcinoma or oxyphilic cell carcinoma. It is one of several types of cancers that affect the thyroid and most aggressive of them all.

Like follicular tumors, there are benign Hurthle cell tumors and malignant Hurthle cell tumors and the doctor tells the difference between them based on invasion of the blood vessels. Non- malignant (benign) cell tumors are not a threat at all and should not come back once they are removed.

Signs and symptoms of Hurthle cell cancer

Warning signs of Hurthle cell cancer may include:
  • A possible lump in the neck, just below your Adam's apple
  • Discomfort in your neck or throat
  • Changes in your voice
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty in swallowing

These signs and symptoms are not exact indicators of Hurthle cell cancer. These may be a result of other medical conditions such as inflammation of the thyroid gland or a noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid.

Causes of Hurthle cell cancer

There is not a clear picture on the causes of Hurthle cell cancer. Doctors know that cancer begins when a cell develops errors in its mutation that contains instructions for biochemical processes in your body. When that mutation is damaged, the genes malfunction, causing cells to grow out of control and eventually form a tumor of benign or malignant nature.

Available treatments and drugs for Hurthle cell cancer

Treatment for Hurthle cell cancer normally requires surgical removal of the thyroid gland. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be other options.
Surgery: Full or partial removal of the thyroid (thyroidectomy) is the most common treatment for Hurthle cell cancer. During the procedure, the surgeon removes all or most of the thyroid gland and leaves tiny edges of thyroid tissue near parathyroid glands to minimize the chance of injuring them. Some of the risks associated with thyroidectomy include:

Radioactive iodine therapy: The therapy involves swallowing a capsule that contains a radioactive liquid. It is usually suggested after surgery because it can help destroy any remaining thyroid tissue, which can contain traces of cancer. It may also be used if Hurthle cell cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Some of the temporary side effects include:

Radiation therapy: This therapy uses high-powered energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. During the procedure, you are positioned on a table and a machine moves around you, delivering the radiation to specific points on your body. Radiation therapy is required if cancer cells remain after surgery and radioactive iodine treatment or if Hurthle cell cancer spreads. Side effects may include:

It's important to treat Hurthle cell carcinoma early on. Thankfully, there are multiple treatment options for Hurthle cell thyroid cancer. Your doctor will walk through all of options to explore.