What is it?

Parathyroid cancer is a tumor that grows in one of the parathyroid glands, located in the neck. It is quite uncommon and is categorized into localized, metastatic, or recurrent cancer. The parathyroid glands secrete a hormone called PTH which increases levels of calcium in the blood. People with the common parathyroid cancer, often have hypercalcemia due to over secretion of PTH. There is also a less common cancer which is non-functioning parathyroid carcinoma, which does not influence PTH levels. There are genetic disorders that are risk factors for parathyroid carcinoma- multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1), familial isolated hyperparathyroidism (FIHP) and Hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor syndrome.

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Signs & symptoms

Symptoms may include frequent urination, being thirsty, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, constipation, feeling sad, feeling tired, forgetfulness, muscle cramps, having a lump in the neck, voice changes and difficulty swallowing.


Diagnosis is based upon findings from medical history and physical examination. Further evaluation may include blood tests for calcium, levels of blood PTH, and parathyroid scan. Parathyroid cancer is most often diagnosed after the parathyroid gland has been surgically removed due to hyperparathyroidism.


Treatment includes surgical removal of the gland, called en bloc resection. Hypercalcemia is treated with medications such as cincalast, bisphosphonates and denosumab.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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