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Is there a role for radiation therapy in the management of Hürthle cell carcinoma?

PURPOSE: To determine the role that radiation therapy may have in the management of resected, unresectable, and metastatic Hürthle cell carcinoma.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Retrospective review of 18 patients receiving radiation therapy for Hürthle cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland. The diagnosis was established in 10 men and 8 women between November 1943 and January 1995. Median age was 57.9 years. Initially, 5 patients received adjuvant radiation therapy, 7 received salvage radiation therapy for unresectable recurrent disease, and 6 received palliative radiation therapy for distant metastases. Median follow-up was 107.1 months (range 15.7-351 months). The Kaplan-Meier method was used to calculate and estimate overall survival, cause-specific survival, and locoregional tumor control rate.

RESULTS: The 5-year overall and cause-specific survival rates were 66.7% (SE 11.1%) and 71.8% (SE 10.7%), respectively. Adjuvant radiation therapy was successful in preventing recurrence in 4 of 5 patients. Salvage radiation therapy was successful in 3 of 5 patients treated with external beam radiation therapy. Palliative radiation therapy provided sustained symptomatic relief at 67% of irradiated sites.

CONCLUSIONS: Hürthle cell carcinoma of the thyroid gland is a radiosensitive tumor. Radiation therapy may provide palliative relief from symptomatic metastases, control recurrent tumors, and prevent recurrence of advanced resected tumors.

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