Parathyroid cancer are malignant cancer cells that form in the tissues of a parathyroid gland. It is a rare disease brought about from the body’s cell mutations. Suffering from inherited disorders can also increase the risk of emerging parathyroid cancer. But with today’s technology, tests can examine the neck and blood areas to properly detect and diagnose parathyroid cancer.

Parathyroid glands are four pea-sized organs in the neck near the thyroid gland. These gland produce parathyroid hormone (PTH or parathormone) naturally. PTH purpose is to efficiently use and store calcium and maintain the calcium levels in the blood at normal amounts. Nevertheless, it is entirely possible for a person with a parathyroid tumor to not show any symptoms. In some cases, the cause of a symptom is a different medical condition altogether, and not a tumor. The doctor may only discover a problem if a blood test shows a more than normal level of calcium in the blood, this is a condition called hypercalcemia.

Most parathyroid cancer signs and symptoms are caused by hypercalcemia. Signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia may include:

  • Kidney problems which includes upper back pains and excessive urination
  • Bone pain
  • Stomach pain
  • A lump in the neck
  • History of gastroduodenal ulcers, these are ulcers found in the stomach and the small intestine
  • General weakness and fatigue
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling sleeping or staying asleep
  • Malaise, a feeling of uneasiness or illness
  • Radiation to the neck
  • Familial Isolated Hyperparathyroidism is a condition that can cause kidney stones, high blood pressure nausea, vomiting
  • MEN1 syndrome or multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 is a condition connected to tumors of hormone-producing glands

Important information for a more accurate diagnosis and treatment:

  • Through exam results and medical history. Your doctor checks for lumps or other concerns. You will also be asked questions about your current health and your family’s medical history.
  • Parathyroid scan shows if the parathyroid producing PTH at unsafe levels. This is done as an outpatient at the hospital. You will get a safe shot of radioactive material. You will then lie still for half an hour while pictures are taken of your head and neck area. More pictures will be taken and compared with the first set.
  • Blood and urine tests. These tests detect for high levels of calcium and PTH in your blood or your pee. Make sure to acquaint yourself with the doctor’s orders before the test to make sure your body is prepared to give clear samples for the best and most accurate results.
  • MRI or magnetic resonance imaging uses a computer, X-rays, and a magnet to create detailed pictures.
  • CT (CAT) scan is a computer and X-rays are used to take detailed pictures inside your body.
  • Ultrasound uses a device called a sonogram that uses special sound waves to make an image of your internal body.
  • Angiogram – a special medical dye is shot into your blood vessel and as it moves through your body, X-rays are taken to see if obstructions impede the dye’s path.
  • Venous (vein) sampling. During sampling, blood is taken from different veins and tested to contain and detect which parathyroid gland is producing more PTH than normal.

Dr. Kanwar Kelley is located at Orinda California and if you are suffering from parathyroid cancer, don’t hesitate to make an appointment (925) 254-6710. He is an experienced physician in many illnesses who can guide your health in the right direction.

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