What is Hürthle cell carcinoma in patients with thyroid cancer?

Updated: May 14, 2020
  • Author: Pramod K Sharma, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Hürthle cell carcinoma is a rare thyroid malignancy that is often considered a variant of follicular carcinoma. Also known as oncocytic carcinoma, Hürthle cell carcinoma has unique biologic features. About 75-100% of the tumor is composed of Hürthle cells, which are also known as oxyphilic, oncocytic, Askanazy, or large cells. These are large, polygonal follicular cells that contain abundant granular acidophilic cytoplasm. Hürthle cells can be found in a variety of benign thyroid conditions, such as Hashimoto thyroiditis, Graves disease, and multinodular goiter. Benign neoplasms, called Hürthle cell adenomas, that contain more than 75% Hürthle cells can also occur.

Hürthle cell carcinomas account for 2-3% of all thyroid malignancies. They occur more commonly in women than in men and typically manifest in the fifth decade of life. The clinical presentation is similar to that of other thyroid malignancies.

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