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What is Hurthle cell thyroid cancer?

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Quick Answer

Hurthle cell cancer is a rare but aggressive type of cancer that affects the thyroid, according to the Mayo Clinic. Treatment usually consists of removing the thyroid gland, but may also include chemotherapy and radiation for cases in which the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

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What is Hurthle cell thyroid cancer?
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Full Answer

Doctors do not know what causes this particular type of cancer, explains the Mayo Clinic. Women have a higher likelihood of developing this disease, as do those who have a previous history of head or neck radiation. Symptoms include a quickly growing lump below the Adam's apple, and neck or throat pain, shortness of breath, changes in the voice and difficulty swallowing. As the tumor grows, it can compress the windpipe and esophagus, causing problems with breathing and swallowing. It is an aggressive cancer that can spread through the body, which makes it more difficult to treat.

To confirm a diagnosis of Hurthle cell cancer, a doctor may order blood tests, imaging tests or a biopsy, says the Mayo Clinic. Imaging tests such as an MRI or CAT scan can help the doctor identify any abnormal growths within the thyroid. Additionally, the doctor may perform a biopsy of the thyroid, using a fine needle to remove a sample of tissue. A laboratory can analyze this tissue sample for the presence of cancer cells.

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