What is Hurthle Cell Carcinoma? It is a type of tumor that is a growth on the thyroid gland and some researchers believe this carcinoma is associated with alterations of the DNA. This carcinoma is very unusual and is a relatively rare type of differentiated thyroid cancer. Although less than 5 percent of thyroid cancers diagnosed are Hurthle cell carcinomas, it does tend to be more aggressive than other thyroid cancers.
Who are at risk of developing Hurthle Cell Carcinoma? Patients tend to be older, mostly occurring in their 70s and 80s. Females for some reason are more predominate by a ratio of 2:1. There is a risk if you have had radiation to your head or neck. Approximately 30 percent of patients diagnosed with this condition has or has had a non-malignant thyroid disease such as Graves’ disease or thyroiditis.
What are the symptoms of Hurthle Cell Carcinoma? Patients may suffer from pain in the neck or throat sometimes extending to the ear. There may be changes in the voice or hoarseness. Difficulty swallowing and shortness of breath are two other symptoms. The one symptom, and often the only clinical sign, that is the most common is a fast growing lump in the neck just below the Adam’s apple.
How is Hurthle Cell Carcinoma diagnosed? The physician will obtain a medical history of the patient along with a physical examination and lab work including blood tests to check thyroid function. To confirm the diagnoses the doctor will order one or both of the following tests: an ultra sound scan or a fine-needle aspiration biopsy.
How is Hurthle Cell Carcinoma treated? Surgery is performed removing all or nearly all the thyroid gland. A little bit of thyroid gland may be left near the parathyroid glands so as to reduce the risk of damaging them. Often after a near-total thyroidectomy radioactive iodine therapy is prescribed. This procedure is used to destroy any thyroid tissue that may be remaining after the surgery.
What medication do you need after surgery? Once you have had your surgery you will be prescribed a synthetic drug called levothyroxine also know as Synthroid, Levoxyl or Levothroid. These medications are safe and you will have to take them for the rest of your life. Your doctor will order regular blood work to determine the right dosage for you.