Parathyroid cancer: An update

Cancer Treat Rev. 2020 Jun;86:102012. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2020.102012. Epub 2020 Mar 19.


Parathyroid cancer (PC) is a rare malignant tumor which comprises 0.5-5% of patients with primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT). Most of these cancers are sporadic, although it may also occur as a feature of various genetic syndromes including hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor syndrome (HPT-JT) and multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) types 1 and 2A. Although PC is characterized by high levels of serum ionized calcium (Ca) and parathyroid hormone (PTH), the challenge to the clinician is to distinguish PC from the far more common entities of parathyroid adenoma (PA) or hyperplasia, as there are no specific clinical, biochemical, or radiological characteristic of PC. Complete surgical resection is the only known curative treatment for PC with the surgical approach during initial surgery strongly influencing the outcome. In order to avoid local recurrence, the lesion must be removed en-bloc with clear margins. PC has high recurrence rates of up to 50% but with favorable long-term survival rates (10-year overall survival of 60-70%) due to its slow-growing nature. Most patients die not from tumor burden directly but from uncontrolled severe hypercalcemia. In this article we have updated the information on PC by reviewing the literature over the past 10 years and summarizing the findings of the largest series published in this period.

Keywords: CDC73 gene; Hypercalcemia; Hyperparathyroidism; Parathyroid cancer; Prognosis; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism / genetics
  • Hyperparathyroidism / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / genetics
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Parathyroid Neoplasms / surgery*