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Jackie asked...

Is a parathormone tumour cancerous?

Tags: Cancer

Is a parathormone tumour cancerous?

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The answer

Dear Jackie,

The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized glands found in the neck near the thyroid gland. The parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH or parathormone). PTH helps the body use and store calcium to keep the calcium in the blood at normal levels.

A parathyroid gland may become overactive and make too much PTH, a condition called hyperparathyroidism. This condition can occur when a benign tumour (non cancer), called an adenoma, forms on one of the parathyroid glands. Sometimes hyperparathyroidism can be caused by parathyroid cancer but this is very rare.

Most people with parathyroid cancer make to much PTH, this causes high levels of calcium in the blood (hypercalcaemia).

Common symptoms of hypercalcaemia include:

  • Feeling thirsty and passing large amounts of urine
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in mood – feeling low, depressed, irritable or anxious
  • Pain in abdomen or back
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Muscle weakness

If you are concerned you may have a parathyroid cancer, make an appointment with your G.P, who will examine you and ask about your symptoms and general health. Your G.P may arrange tests. If they are unsure what the problem is, or think that your symptoms could be caused by cancer, they will refer you to a hospital specialist for further assessment.

Sometimes it can be difficult to diagnose parathyroid cancer before an operation to remove the tumours in the parathyroid glands because the symptoms can be similar to those caused by non-cancerous tumours.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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