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Among the rarest cancer, Parathyroid cancer occurs in the parathyroid gland and is presented as malignant growth. Also, it is most common in adults of middle age. The parathyroid gland is located in the neck region and its major function is to release parathyroid hormone and regulate calcium levels in the blood.  

Parathyroid cancer could occur in any parathyroid gland that is tiny glands, four in number, attached to the thyroid gland and located in the neck region. Moreover, this cancer could be a Benign non-cancerous tumor ( Parathyroid adenoma) or Malignant( Cancerous or abnormal growth) in the parathyroid gland.  The cancerous growth in the parathyroid gland develops parathyroid cancer. 

Importantly the major role of the parathyroid gland is to make a parathyroid hormone that usually maintains calcium levels in the body, thus maintaining bone health. During parathyroid cancer, too much parathyroid hormone is secreted which increases the calcium level in the blood ( hypercalcemia ). Indeed it is thus identified as the most common symptom of parathyroid cancer. 

Cost of Treatment of Parathyroid Cancer in India

On Average Cost of Parathyroid Cancer Treatment in India between 534 USD to 4000 USD. Parathyroid cancer treatment in India depends on various factors that include the experience of the surgeon in the field, the location of the hospital, the facilities provided in a hospital, length of stay in the hospital. 

What Causes Parathyroid Cancer?

As such, there is no cause of parathyroid cancer. Apart from this, it is found among people with genetic conditions and sometimes seen among people who got radiation’s in the head and neck region. 

parathyroid cancer

Symptoms of Parathyroid Cancer?

The patient might present with the following symptoms with a parathyroid tumor. It should be noted sometimes the patient doesn’t show these symptoms and the cancer is identified when a very high and uncontrollable increase in calcium levels in the blood is observed during a random blood test by a doctor. 

The Symptoms Could Be – 

  • Pain in the upper back area.
  • Lump in the neck area. 
  • Mental fatigue, confusion, and depression.
  • Pain in bone.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Frequent and excessive urge to urinate.
  • Nausea and vomiting. 
  • Muscle weakness.
  • General body weakness. 
  • Stomach issues.
  • Diagnosis.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms that are or are persistent for a long duration, you must consult your doctor immediately for a treatment plan. Your endocrinologist would do your physical examination and would take your medical history first to diagnose the disease.

A blood test like Serum PTH and Serum Calcium levels help in identifying cancer. The increased and uncontrollable levels indicate Parathyroid cancer.

Radiographic tests like MRI scan, CT scan, Parathyroid scan, and PET scan might be advised as per the requirement to identify the size and stage of the parathyroid tumor.

These tests would help in determining and planning the treatment for parathyroid cancer.

Stage

Parathyroid cancer is either benign or malignant which means it is either localized or metastasize ( spread to other parts of the body ) 

Localized parathyroid cancer could occur in areas like the Thyroid gland or nearby nerve and muscles to the thyroid and parathyroid gland.

Metastasize parathyroid cancer spread to other areas of the body like lungs, bones. 

Complications:-

Although Parathyroidectomy is done easily by trained and specialist doctors. However, every treatment might lead to some or other complications. 

The Possible Complications Could Be:-

  • Wound infection 
  • Nerve injury 
  • Bleeding spots in the neck
  • Paralysis of vocal cord thus hoarseness of voice
  • Scar formation at the neck area 

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Procedure

Treatment Options for Parathyroid Cancer

Once the diagnosis is done by doing a physical examination, taking a medical history, serum tests, radiographic examination, your overall health, and in a few cases biopsy the stage and type of parathyroid cancer are identified. 

The healthcare team thus plans your treatment line depending on the above-mentioned factors. 

Local or systemic treatment or both local and systemic treatment is planned to depend on the size of the tumor, stage of parathyroid cancer, and whether the tumor is benign or malignant.

The treatment approach by the team of doctors include:-

Surgery –

The most common treatment given in parathyroid cancer is Surgery. The surgical removal of the parathyroid tumor is called Parathyroidectomy and is done for benign tumors.

If the tumor is benign in nature surgery is not required it is only required in situations when there is a need to control calcium levels in the blood.  However, if the tumor is malignant and the size is more than 3cm the gland and its surrounding structures need to be removed.

It is also the most frequent choice of treatment if cancer spreads or metastasizes to other parts of the body too.

Pre-Procedure:-

Once the investigations are done, an ideal diagnosis is made regarding the type and stage of cancer, surgery is planned by a team of doctors that include endocrinologists, Oncologists, Anesthesiologists, Nurses. 

Your overall health status is checked, you are admitted to the hospital, and surgery is planned under anesthesia. 

Post-Procedure:-

Once the tumor is removed, you need to stay in hospital for a few days depending on your overall health and the recovery your body show post-surgery.

Post-surgery you could start drinking fluids after an hour or two with minimal pain and discomfort that would become normal within 3-4 days. 

Importantly blood investigations for Serum calcium are done if they become normal it is fine, if they get too low post-surgery calcium tablets are prescribed to maintain the calcium levels. 

Chemotherapy:-

Chemotherapy includes the drugs that are used to destroy cancer cells. It is usually recommended post-surgery. Sometimes when surgery is not possible chemotherapy is done. It is observed Chemotherapy is not the ideal choice of treatment as it is not effective in parathyroid cancer treatment.

Radiotherapy:-

Radiotherapy includes using high-energy rays recommended post-surgery. When surgery is not possible radiotherapy is done. It is observed Radiotherapy is not the ideal choice of treatment as it is not effective in parathyroid cancer treatment.

Support therapy:-

Physical, mental, emotional, financial support by family and friends are very important during parathyroid cancer treatment. Additionally, light exercise, a nutritional diet, and maintaining overall health are important for the quality of life. 

Medication:-

Medicines are prescribed for maintaining high calcium levels in the blood as high calcium levels in the blood pose serious health issues.

The Most Important Frequently Asked Questions

Does Parathyroid Cancer Show Recurrence?

After treatment also, there are chances of recurrence of parathyroid cancer, and =recovery is not always possible. Contact your healthcare specialist once you feel your tumor is showing recurrence post-treatment. Regular serum calcium level investigations are important to keep a check on the recurrence of cancer.

Relation Between Parathyroid Adenoma and Hyperparathyroidism?

When benign tumor growth called parathyroid adenoma develops in the parathyroid gland it could develop Hyperparathyroidism. Parathyroid cancer rarely develops hyperthyroidism.

What Is the Frequency of Parathyroid Cancer?

Parathyroid cancer is rarest and its incidence is only 1 percent among the people of middle age that could either be men or women. It could be seen among patients with primary hyperparathyroidism. 

What Are the Functions of the Thyroid and Parathyroid Gland?

The major function of the thyroid gland is to regulate body energy thus maintaining the metabolism of the body and the major function of the parathyroid gland is to maintain calcium levels in the blood. Although the parathyroid and thyroid gland are located close to each other they have no related role together.

What Is the Survival Rate with Parathyroid Cancer?

The survival rate with parathyroid cancer most of the time is 5 years however it completely depends on an individual patient according to their overall health and recovery status.

Is Parathyroid Cancer Curable?

Parathyroid cancer is the rarest cancer. With treatment it cures but if the tumor shows recurrence it is difficult to cure it completely.

Does the Scar Form After Parathyroid Surgery Goes Away?

The scar usually fades with time and becomes less visible but otherwise, it is permanent.

Can I Start My Daily Activities Post-Surgery?

Post-surgery after 3-4 days you could resume your daily activities slowly. Light exercise, normal daily activities should be resumed slowly for a speedy recovery.

When Can I Eat or Drink Post-Surgery?

You may start eating or drinking after 2 hours post-surgery. It is advised to take light meals and avoid heavy meals immediately after surgery. You might experience some pain or discomfort post-surgery during swallowing. 

Can I Start Working Post-Surgery?

Yes, you could resume your work post-surgery. It completely depends on the personal recovery you feel post-surgery.

Is Parathyroid Surgery Major or Minor Surgery?

Parathyroid surgery is minimally invasive surgery it is not major surgery. You are discharged from the hospital within 2 days and based on the recovery process. There is minimal discomfort or pain in swallowing post-surgery that goes away few days. 

What Is the Recovery Look Like?

Parathyroid surgery is minimally invasive surgery with pain or discomfort for 3- 4 days in swallowing, eating, and drinking. The recovery is quick and most of the patients recover well and show speedy recovery by following their doctor’s advice and regular follow-up. 

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