Favorable Outcome of Hurthle Cell Carcinoma of the Thyroid Treated With Total Thyroidectomy, Radioiodine, and Selective Use of External-Beam Radiotherapy

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There is controversy about the prognosis of Hurthle cell carcinoma of the thyroid. The purpose of this project is to report the outcome of a well-defined group of patients treated at a single institution in the modern era.


Sixteen patients met the following inclusion criteria: Treatment with curative intent at our institution between January 1, 1997, and December 31, 2010. Primary treatment with total thyroidectomy with or without neck dissection. Age >18 years at the time of thyroidectomy. Confirmation by a pathologist of the diagnosis of a primary Hurthle cell carcinoma of the thyroid based on ≥75% Hurthle cells with extension through the tumor capsule. No areas of poorly differentiated (insular) or undifferentiated (anaplastic) carcinoma. Stage T1-3, NX-1b, M0. All patients received radioiodine immediately after thyroidectomy (remnant ablation, n=14) or as adjuvant for a recurrence (n=2). External-beam radiotherapy to the neck as adjuvant therapy after thyroidectomy was used in 2 patients and after resection of a neck recurrence in 1 patient.


Five-year actuarial rates with a median 6 years of follow up on surviving patients were as follows:


Overall and cancer-specific survival: 92% (1 death from Hurthle cell carcinoma). Relapse-free survival (no visible tumor and unstimulated thyroglobulin ≤1.0): 65%.


Our experience suggests that the outcome of Hurthle cell carcinoma of the thyroid is favorable in adults with stage T1-3 NX-1b M0 disease who are managed with total thyroidectomy, radioiodine, and—in selected cases—external-beam radiotherapy. We do not have the ability to compare our results to other management strategies.

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