Definition

What is parathyroid cancer?

The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands attached to the thyroid. They are located under the Adam’s apple in your neck. Parathyroid cancer is a cancerous (malignant) growth in a parathyroid gland.

How common is parathyroid cancer?

Prathyroid cancer is a rare type of slow-growing cancer. People who get it are usually 30 or older. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of parathyroid cancer?

The common symptoms of parathyroid cancer are:

  • Bone pain
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Fractures
  • Frequent thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Kidney stones
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor appetite

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes parathyroid cancer?

Some possible causes of parathyroid cancer:

  • Radiation (treatment with X-rays or other kinds of energy) to the neck
  • Familial Isolated Hyperparathyroidism — a condition that can cause kidney stones, nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, weakness, and fatigue
  • MEN1 syndrome (multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1) — a condition connected to tumors of hormone-producing glands.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for parathyroid cancer?

A history of parathyroid tumors in a family may raise a person’s risk of developing a parathyroid tumor. A hereditary, or inherited, condition known as multiple endocrine neoplasia may raise an individual’s risk for benign parathyroid tumors. All MEN-related parathyroid tumors are benign. No genetic factors have been linked to parathyroid cancer.

There are no known risk factors for people who do not have a family history of parathyroid tumors.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is parathyroid cancer diagnosed?

Parathyroid cancer may be diagnosed with:

  • Exam and history. Your doctor looks at you and checks for lumps or other things that don’t seem normal. She will also ask questions about your current health and your family’s medical history.
  • Blood and urine tests. These look for high levels of calcium and PTH in your blood or your pee. Follow the doctor’s orders before the test to make sure you get the best results.
  • Parathyroid scan. This test shows if the parathyroid makes too much PTH. This is done as an outpatient at the hospital. You will get a shot that contains radioactive material. Then you will lie still for about 30 minutes while pictures are taken of your head and neck. Later, more pictures will be taken and compared with the first set.
  • CT (CAT) scan. A computer and X-rays are used to take detailed pictures inside your body.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). It uses a computer, X-rays, and a magnet to create detailed pictures.
  • This uses special sound waves to make an image called a sonogram.
  • A special dye is shot into a blood vessel. As it moves through your body, X-rays are taken to see if there are any blockages.
  • Venous (vein) sampling. Blood is taken from different veins and tested to see which parathyroid gland is making more PTH than it should.

How is parathyroid cancer treated?

If your doctor finds parathyroid cancer, she will check to see if it’s spread. Sometimes cancer will break away and form a new tumor somewhere else in the body. Treatment is different in each case.

  • Surgery is the most common treatment for parathyroid cancer. The surgeon may take out just the tumor or remove other tissues too, if the cancer has spread to other places.
  • Radiation therapy uses X-rays and other strong energy to attack the cancer cells. Radiation may be used before or after surgery.
  • Radiofrequency ablation uses heat to kill cancer cells. It also reduces the PTH level.
  • Chemotherapy uses medicines to kill the cancer. The type of medicine depends on the tumor.
  • Clinical trials are tests in which doctors try new drugs and methods. Ask your doctor if you’re a good candidate for one of these.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage parathyroid cancer?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with parathyroid cancer:

People cope with cancer just like they cope with many other problems in life – each person does it in their own way. With time and practice, most people find ways to go on with their work, hobbies, and social relationships.

As you look for a way of coping that works for you, you may want to try some of these ideas:

  • Learn as much as you can about your cancer and its treatment.
  • Express your feelings. Some people find that giving some kind of outlet to their feelings helps.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Exericise.
  • Reach out to others.
  • Try to focus on what you can control, not what you can’t.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: August 24, 2018 | Last Modified: August 24, 2018

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