The emerging role of denosumab in the long-term management of parathyroid carcinoma-related refractory hypercalcemia

Endocr Pract. 2015 May;21(5):468-73. doi: 10.4158/EP14410.OR. Epub 2015 Feb 9.


Objective: The main cause of death in patients with parathyroid carcinoma is parathyroid hormone (PTH)-induced hypercalcemia. To date, the management of hypercalcemia has been based on the use of bisphosphonates and calcimimetic agents. In recent reports, the use of denosumab has shown encouraging results in cases of refractory hypercalcemia of malignancy. Our objective is to present a case of successful management of resistant hypercalcemia due to parathyroid carcinoma with denosumab, to review similar cases from the literature, and to propose denosumab's use in the clinical management of PTH-induced refractory hypercalcemia.

Methods: Presentation of a case report and review of the literature for cases of parathyroid carcinoma-mediated hypercalcemia successfully treated with denosumab.

Results: A 71-year-old man with metastatic parathyroid carcinoma was referred to our department for uncontrolled hypercalcemia, resistant to treatment with bisphosphonates and cinacalcet. Treatment with denosumab (120 mg per month) in addition to cinacalcet (180 mg per day) resulted in normalization of calcium levels and maintenance within the normal range for an observation period of 11 months. Review of the literature revealed 4 case reports and a letter to the editor, all of which reported the successful treatment of resistant hypercalcemia associated with parathyroid carcinoma.

Conclusion: Based on the above findings of the effectiveness of denosumab in controlling refractory hypercalcemia, its safety in renal failure and the fact that denosumab may reduce PTH-induced bone loss, we endorse its use in the management of hypercalcemia in patients with parathyroid carcinoma and perhaps other conditions with PTH-induced hypercalcemia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Calcimimetic Agents
  • Denosumab / therapeutic use*
  • Diphosphonates
  • Drug Resistance
  • Humans
  • Hypercalcemia / drug therapy*
  • Hypercalcemia / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / complications*


  • Calcimimetic Agents
  • Diphosphonates
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Denosumab