Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare endocrine malignancy. The reported incidence is from 0.5 to 5% of primary hyperparathyroidism cases in various series. The cause is unknown, but clinical correlations with different genetic syndromes exist. Mutations in the HPRT2 gene seem to play a significant role in the pathogenesis of this disease. Men and women are equally affected, usually in the fourth or fifth decade of life. Most patients will present with signs and symptoms of hypercalcaemia. Cases of non-functioning carcinoma are exceedingly rare. Surgical resection is the most effective method of treatment and palliation. A significant proportion of patients will experience recurrence, and will need further surgical and, eventually, medical management of hypercalcaemia. The disease is progressive but slow growing. Most patients will require multiple operations to resect recurrent disease. The main cause of morbidity and mortality is the sequela of uncontrolled chronic hypercalcaemia rather than tumour burden. The current paper will review the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical presentation and diagnostic work-up of this disease. Surgical management in different scenarios is reviewed in detail, followed by other types of treatment and management of incurable disease.
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