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Parathyroid Gland Tumour

What is parathyroid tumour?

Parathyroid tumour is an abnormal growth within the parathyroid glands, located in the neck, which leads to increased levels of parathyroid hormone causing hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism further results in increased blood calcium levels. Parathyroid tumours are the most common cause of hyperparathyroidism. Most parathyroid tumours are benign and are also called parathyroid adenomas. Malignant tumours of the parathyroid glands are rare. Menopausal women over 60 years of age are at an increased risk of hyperparathyroidism. The risk of parathyroid tumour is also increased by radiation to the neck or the head.

What are the signs & symptoms of parathyroid tumour?

Symptoms of hyperparathyroidism are non-specific and resemble the symptoms of many other medical conditions. These non-specific symptoms include fatigue, poor appetite, muscle weakness, aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, excessive urination and weight loss. Thus, the diagnosis of parathyroid tumours is delayed resulting in increased morbidity.

The condition is usually discovered accidently on the evaluation of blood tests done for some other medical condition.

How is parathyroid tumour diagnosed?

Ultrasound, sestamibi scan and computed tomography (ST) scan of the neck may be helpful in diagnosing a parathyroid tumour.

Blood tests may be ordered to assess the serum levels of PTH, calcium, phosphorus, chloride and bicarbonate. A 24hr-urine test may also be ordered to check for increased levels of calcium excretion. Bone density examination may be conducted to check the involvement of bones. X-ray, CT or ultrasound of kidneys are ordered to evaluate the impact on the kidneys.

What are the treatment options of parathyroid tumour?

Surgical removal of the tumour is the preferred treatment for the management of parathyroid tumour. This is also effective in relieving the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism.

What are the complications due to parathyroid tumours?

The complications due to delayed diagnosis of a parathyroid tumour may include increased risk of fractures, calcium deposits in the kidney tissue (nephrocalcinosis) and bone deformation (osteitis fibrosa).