Parathyroid cancer is also known as parathyroid carcinoma and is an extremely rare type of cancer. This cancer can affect both men and women. The cancer itself is slow to grow, however it may spread to other parts of the body, including the lungs and bones, if not found and treated. Parathyroid cancer has a high rate of reappearance -up to thirty years after the initial case. Therefore, if Parathyroid cancer is found, treatment should occur immediately and follow-ups should be done on a routine basis.
The parathyroid is made up of four pea-sized glands, two on each lobe of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland found at the base of the neck. While the cause of parathyroid is unknown, exposure to head or neck radiation may increase the odds of an occurrence of parathyroid cancer.
The parathyroid is responsible for the levels of calcium in the body. High levels of calcium in the blood may cause this type of cancer. The cancer causes calcium, which is stored in bones to move into the blood system. It also causes excess calcium to be absorbed into the intestines.
When testing for parathyroid cancer, calcium levels are tested. High levels of calcium may be an indication of this type of cancer. This particular type of cancer is extremely difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms may be indications of many other problems.
The most commonly experienced symptoms include weakness or fatigue, exhaustion, nausea, a feeling of being constantly thirsty, the need to urinate a lot, constipation, kidney stones, muscle weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, pain in the abdomen that doesn't go away, bone fractures, or bone pain.
A lump may be felt near the thyroid. This could be confused with thyroid cancer. Ultrasounds may be used to determine the cause of cancer as well as testing calcium levels.
If parathyroid cancer is determined, surgery is almost always required. Drugs may also be prescribed in order to lower calcium levels and stop the calcium from being absorbed into the body.
As with any type of cancer, the earlier the detection, the better the odds for survival. If a patient experiences any of the above symptoms, a doctor or physician should be consulted. If a patient finds a lump in their neck, a specialist should be consulted. The longer any type of cancer is left untreated, the greater the odds the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.