Hurthle cell cancer, also known as Hurthle cell carcinoma or oxyphilic cell carcinoma, is a rare type of cancer that affects the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland in the base of the neck and secretes hormones that are crucial to the body’s metabolism.
Hurthle cell cancer may be more aggressive than other types of thyroid cancer. The common treatment involves surgery to remove the thyroid gland.
Symptoms of Hurthle cell cancer include:
- Fast-growing lump in the neck (below the Adam’s apple)
- Pain in the neck or throat
- Shortness of breath
- Hoarseness or other voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing
These symptoms don’t necessarily indicate Hurthle cell cancer. They can also be symptoms of other health conditions such as inflammation of the thyroid gland or a noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid (goiter).
The exact cause of Hurthle cell cancer is unknown.
Cancer develops when a cell develops errors in its DNA. Altered or damaged DNA may cause the genes to malfunction resulting in overproduction and overgrowth of abnormal cells, which eventually form a cluster or mass (tumor) of cancerous cells.
Factors that may increase the risk of Hurthle cell cancer include:
- Being female
- Older age
- A history of radiation treatments to the head and neck
Potential complications of Hurthle cell cancer may include:
- Swallowing and breathing difficulties that can occur if the tumor presses on the esophagus and windpipe (trachea).
- Spread of the cancer (metastasis) to other tissues and organs