Parathyroid Cancer

What Is Parathyroid Cancer?

Parathyroid cancer is quite rare, and the majority of parathyroid tumors are benign adenomas, meaning they are not cancerous. Both benign and malignant parathyroid tumors increase blood levels of parathyroid hormone and wreak havoc on calcium levels. Malignant tumors tend to cause the largest increase in parathyroid hormone, yet only about one percent of people who see their doctor for hyperparathyroidism have cancerous tumors.

Parathyroid Cancer

What is a parathyroid tumor?

The parathyroid gland is located in the front of the neck near the thyroid gland. A parathyroid tumor is a growth inside a parathyroid gland. Parathyroid tumors may cause increased levels of parathyroid hormones secreted by the parathyroid glands, leading to hyperparathyroidism. Most parathyroid tumors are benign (noncancerous) adenomas. Cancers of the parathyroid are very rare.

Anatomy and function of the parathyroid glands

The parathyroid glands are two pairs of small, oval-shaped glands located adjacent to the two thyroid gland lobes in the neck. These glands produce parathyroid hormone, which plays a role in the regulation of calcium levels in the blood. Precise calcium levels are important in the human body, since small deviations can cause muscle and nerve impairment.

The parathyroid hormone stimulates the following functions:

  • Release of calcium by bones into the bloodstream
  • Absorption of food by the intestines
  • Conservation of calcium by the kidneys

What Are the Symptoms of a Parathyroid Tumor?

If the parathyroid tumor causes hyperparathyroidism, symptoms may include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive urination
  • Confusion
  • Muscle weakness

The symptoms of a parathyroid tumor may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

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