Parathyroid cancer is a rare form of endocrine cancer in which malignant cells form in the tissues of a parathyroid gland.
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Tests and exams performed to detect and diagnose parathyroid tumors may include:
- Physical exam and medical history.
- Blood chemistry studies.
- Parathyroid hormone test to check for higher than normal amounts of the hormone in the blood.
- Sestamibi scan (also called nuclear stress test), in which a small amount of radioactive substance is injected into a vein and tracked through a special camera to see if it collects in the overactive gland.
- Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan.
- Ultrasound imaging of the neck.
- Percutaneous transpheptic cholangiogram (PCTA), in which dye is injected into a blood vessel and then X-rays are taken to capture any signs of blockage in the area around the pancreas.
- Venous sampling to check for abnormal levels of parathyroid hormone released by nearby organs and tissues of the blood sample site or sites.
- En bloc resection, in which the parathyroid is removed, and potentially the lymph nodes, a portion of thyroid glands and other healthy surrounding tissues, as well.
- Tumor debulking, in which surgeons remove as much of the cancerous parathyroid tumor as possible.
- Metastasectomy, in which surgeons remove any cancer that has spread to other organs of the body such as the lungs.
Chemotherapy drugs can be used alone or in combination to slow the growth of parathyroid cancer, but surgery is the most common and successful treatment option to prevent recurrence.
External beam radiation therapy can be provided as palliative care for parathyroid cancer.
To enhance the care of people dealing with parathyroid cancer, Scripps Health also offers patient support services.