Parathyroid tumors are usually benign (not cancer) and are called adenomas. Parathyroid cancer is very rare. Having certain inherited disorders can increase the risk of parathyroid cancer. Explore the links on this page to learn more about parathyroid cancer treatment and clinical trials.

Parathyroid Cancer Treatment

  • Parathyroid cancer is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of a parathyroid gland.
  • Having certain inherited disorders can increase the risk of developing parathyroid cancer.
  • Signs and symptoms of parathyroid cancer include weakness, feeling tired, and a lump in the neck.
  • Tests that examine the neck and blood are used to detect (find) and diagnose parathyroid cancer.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

Parathyroid cancer is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of a parathyroid gland.

The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized organs found in the neck near the thyroid gland. The parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH or parathormone). PTH helps the body use and store calcium to keep the calcium in the blood at normal levels.

A parathyroid gland may become overactive and make too much PTH, a condition called hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism can occur when a benign tumor (noncancer), called an adenoma, forms on one of the parathyroid glands, and causes it to grow and become overactive. Sometimes hyperparathyroidism can be caused by parathyroid cancer, but this is very rare.

Signs and symptoms of parathyroid cancer include weakness, feeling tired, and a lump in the neck.

Most parathyroid cancer signs and symptoms are caused by the hypercalcemia that develops. Signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia include the following:

  • Weakness.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Being much more thirsty than usual.
  • Urinating much more than usual.
  • Constipation.
  • Trouble thinking clearly.

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

  • Whether the calcium level in the blood can be controlled.
  • The stage of the cancer.
  • Whether the tumor and the capsule around the tumor can be completely removed by surgery.
  • The patient’s general health.

Stages of Parathyroid Cancer

  • After parathyroid cancer has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.
  • There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.
  • Cancer may spread from where it began to other parts of the body.
  • There is no standard staging process for parathyroid cancer.

    What is Cancer?

    • Cancer can start almost anywhere in the human body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Normally, human cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When cells grow old or become damaged, they die, and new cells take their place.

    • Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the risk of getting cancer. This can include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, avoiding exposure to known cancer-causing substances, and taking medicines or vaccines that can prevent cancer from developing.

    • Cancer can cause many different symptoms. Most often these symptoms are not caused by cancer, but by benign tumors or other problems. If you have symptoms that last for a couple of weeks, your doctor will do a physical exam and order tests or other procedures to find out what is causing your symptoms.