Parathyroidcancer, a very rare cancer, is a disease in which cancer
(malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the parathyroid gland. The
parathyroid gland is at the base of the neck, near the thyroid gland. The
parathyroid gland makes a hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH), or
parathormone, which helps the body store and use calcium.
Problems with the parathyroid gland are common and are usually not caused by
cancer. The parathyroid gland may become overactive and make too much PTH, a condition called hyperparathyroidism. This causes too much calcium to be found in the blood. The
extra PTH also takes calcium from the bones, which causes pain in the bones,
kidney problems, and other types of problems. There are other conditions that
can cause the parathyroid gland to make too much PTH. It is important for a
doctor to determine what is causing the extra PTH. Very rarely, hyperparathyroidism is caused by cancer of the parathyroid gland, and too much PTH will be produced by the tumor. A rare inheriteddisorder of the parathyroid called familial isolated hyperparathyroidism may increase the risk of developing parathyroid cancer. A rare inherited disorder of the endocrine glands called multiple endocrine neoplasia 1 has also been linked with an increased risk of developing parathyroid cancer.
A doctor should be seen if there are the following symptoms: bone pain, a lump
in the neck, pain in the upper part of the back, weak muscles, difficulty
speaking, or vomiting.
If there are symptoms, the doctor will conduct a physical examination and feel
for lumps in the throat. The doctor may also order blood tests and other tests
to check for cancer or other types of tumors that may not be cancer (benign
The chance of recovery (prognosis) depends on whether the cancer is just in the
parathyroid gland or has spread to other parts of the body (stage) and the
patient’s general health.
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