Hurthle cell adenoma is a benign tumor that forms in the thyroid. The hurthle cell is a cell in the thyroid that is associated with Hashimoto thyroiditis.
In rare cases these tumors can become malignant and can spread. Although the exact cause is unknown, it is believed that there is a correlation between hurthle cell adenoma and people who have had high amounts of radiation on their head or neck areas.
This is a very rare cancer and as such there only a few places with experience in treating it. Symptoms can include feeling a mass in the thyroid, or feelings of pressure and even pain in the affected area.
How does it work?
Currently, the most common treatment for hurthle cell adenoma is surgery. Benign tumors are removed and with regular check-ups the patient’s prognosis is generally good. In some cases doctors try to predict which tumors will become malignant. If they have a patient that they think is at risk for this they may remove the tumor and the thyroid tissue. This is known as a thyroid lobectomy.
Types of treatments for hurthle cell adenoma include:
• As discussed above, surgery to remove the tumor and possibly the thyroid.
• External radiotherapy – External radiotherapy is used to hopefully help reduce the chance of a tumor recurring. It is generally only used in patients whose surgery is incomplete or not possible for some reason.
• Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy as a treatment for hurthle cell adenoma has been fairly unsuccessful. Recently, however, some combinations of chemotherapy drugs are showing promise. More studies are needed.
• Levothyroxine treatment – Levothyroxine treatment aims to inhibit thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH helps cancer cells grow, so it is believed that the less TSH, the less chance the cancer cells will have to grow.
• Radioactive iodine – this treatment is often used after surgery to remove any healthy thyroid tissue that may have been missed. Radioactive iodine also assists in conducting full body scans, which will give a clearer picture of carcinoma in the body.
The side effects that a patient experiences depends on the stage of their tumor and whether it is benign or has the potential to become malignant. As with any surgery, patients can expect pain and a certain amount of recovery time. Treatments with radiotherapy and chemotherapy can induce side effects such as fatigue and nausea.