What is hurthle cell thyroid cancer?
I'm a 52 year old woman, and my doctor just recommended that we test me for Hurthle cell cancer. This came as a shock because I was only having some trouble with my breathing and swallowing ? I never guessed it might be so serious. What should I know about the disease, in case I have it?
Hurthle cell carcinoma is a relatively rare type of thyroid cancer. The thyroid is a gland that sits in front of the windpipe at the lower portion of the neck. Disorders of the thyroid may lead to difficulty swallowing and breathing, but typically this involves a significantly enlarged thyroid that is actually compressing the trachea and esophagus.
A Hurthle cell is a type of cell that is normally found in the thyroid. When one of these cells loses control of its ability to control its growth and replication, a tumor results. Hurthle cell tumors may be benign or cancerous, and the only way to definitively tell the difference is to see invasion of the cells into the tumor's surrounding capsule or blood vessels.
A Hurthle cell cancer may present in the same way as several other thyroid disorders. A patient may notice a nodule in the thyroid, develop pain, and if the tumor is large enough, difficulty with swallowing or breathing. Surgical removal of the cancer is the main treatment, and this is often followed by a course of radioactive iodine treatment to help destroy any remaining thyroid tissue. If the disease has spread beyond the thyroid, radiation therapy may be recommended.