The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck, just below the Adam's apple.
Hurthle (HEERT-luh) cell cancer is a rare cancer that affects the thyroid gland.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the base of the neck. It secretes hormones that are essential for regulating the body's metabolism.
Hurthle cell cancer is also called Hurthle cell carcinoma or oxyphilic cell carcinoma. This is one of several types of cancers that affect the thyroid.
This type of cancer can be more aggressive than other types of thyroid cancer. Surgery to remove the thyroid gland is the most common treatment.
Products & Services
Hurthle cell cancer doesn't always cause symptoms, and it's sometimes detected during a physical examination or an imaging test done for some other reason.
When they do occur, signs and symptoms may include:
- A lump in the neck, just below the Adam's apple
- Pain in the neck or throat
- Hoarseness or other changes in your voice
- Shortness of breath
- Swallowing difficulty
These signs and symptoms don't necessarily mean that you have Hurthle cell cancer. They may be indications of other medical conditions — such as inflammation of the thyroid gland or an enlargement of the thyroid (goiter).
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your health care provider if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you.
Get Mayo Clinic cancer expertise delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe for free and receive an in-depth guide to coping
with cancer, plus helpful information on how to get a second opinion. You can unsubscribe at any
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing
Your in-depth coping with cancer guide will be in your inbox shortly. You will also
receive emails from Mayo Clinic on the latest about cancer news, research, and care.
If you don’t receive our email within 5 minutes, check your SPAM folder, then contact us
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
It's not clear what causes Hurthle cell cancer.
This cancer begins when cells in the thyroid develop changes in their DNA. A cell's DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. The DNA changes, which doctors call mutations, tell the thyroid cells to grow and multiply quickly. The cells develop the ability to continue living when other cells would naturally die. The accumulating cells form a mass called a tumor that can invade and destroy healthy tissue nearby and spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Factors that increase the risk of developing thyroid cancer include:
- Being female
- Being older
- Having a history of radiation treatments to the head and neck
- Having a family history of thyroid cancer
Possible complications of Hurthle cell cancer include:
- Problems with swallowing and breathing. They can occur if the cancer grows and presses on the food tube (esophagus) and windpipe (trachea).
- Spread of the cancer. Hurthle cell cancer can spread (metastasize) to other tissues and organs, making treatment and recovery more difficult.