Parathyroid cancer is a rare cancer that begins in the tissues of a parathyroid gland. The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized organs on the back of your thyroid gland in the neck.
Parathyroid Cancer: What You Need to Know
Parathyroid cancer is best managed by a group of specialists that include endocrinologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, nurses and patient support specialists. Our physicians and other support staff work together as a team, providing expert care.
Every patient is unique. You and your family will feel the advantages of personalized, patient-centered care. We optimize your treatment to your specific parathyroid cancer diagnosis.
Experienced, Trusted Expertise
Patients facing parathyroid cancer benefit from our close partnership with the University of Vermont Cancer Center, where most of our cancer doctors regularly dedicate part of their time to developing more effective means of discovering and treating cancer. This means that your physician has some of the most up-to-date information, which translates into better care for you and your family.
What is Parathyroid Cancer?
The parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH). PTH controls calcium use and storage. Parathyroid cancer can cause hyperparathyroidism, a condition where an overactive parathyroid gland makes too much PTH, but this is rare. More commonly, a noncancerous tumor (called an adenoma) grows on one of the parathyroid glands causing it become overactive. Extra PTH triggers hypercalcemia, which is too much calcium in the blood.
When hyperparathyroidism initiates hypercalcemia it is a serious, life-threatening illness. Treating hypercalcemia is as important as treating the parathyroid cancer itself.
Most parathyroid cancer symptoms are actually hypercalcemia symptoms, including:
- Extreme tiredness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss without trying
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty thinking clearly
Additional parathyroid cancer symptoms include:
- Abdominal, side or back pain
- Bone pain
- A broken bone
- A lump in the neck
- Hoarseness or other voice changes
- Trouble swallowing
Several factors may increase your risk of developing parathyroid cancer, including:
- Hereditary genetic conditions
- Previous radiation therapy may increase the risk of developing a parathyroid adenoma
Diagnosis and Treatment: Parathyroid Cancer
UVM Cancer Center's physicians are highly trained in performing procedures to diagnose and treat parathyroid cancer such as chemotherapy and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).