Parathyroid cancer is very rare, accounting for less than 100 cases of cancer every year in the United States.Four pea-sized organs located near the thyroid gland in the neck, the parathyroid glands are responsible for making a hormone called parathyroid (PTH) that helps the body use calcium efficiently.A condition called hyperparathyroidism, caused by a benign (non cancerous) tumor, can form in these glands. In this condition, the benign tumor caused the overproduction of PTH, which causes the small intestine to take in more calcium from food as well as causes the calcium that is stored in bones to travel into the blood.
Treatment options for parathyroid cancer may include one or more of the following:
An en blanc resection is a surgery that removes the entire gland, the capsule around the gland, some of the nearby thyroid gland, muscles, tissues and nerves. A tumor debulking surgery takes place when as much of the parathyroid tumor is removed as possible. Finally, a metastasectomy is a procedure where in addition to removal of the parathyroid gland, surgery is completed to remove any of the cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.
For parathyroid cancer, radiation therapy may be given after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. It can be given externally or internally depending on the stage of the cancer.
Given intravenously and by pill, chemotherapy works to kill the rapidly dividing cancer cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy is not selective to killing just the cancer cells, but also depletes other fast-growing cells in the body, which causes several debilitating side effects including hair loss and nausea.
Supportive Care Therapy
These types of therapies try to stop the overproduction of PTH produced by the parathyroid gland. Some of these therapies include Areda, Bonefos, Calcimar, Cibacalcin, Ganite, Lron, Miacalcin, Mithramycin or Zometa.