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Semin Oncol. 2010 Dec;37(6):580-90. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2010.10.013.

Parathyroid cancer.

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  • 1Metabolic Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892–1752, USA.


Parathyroid cancer is an uncommon malignancy and rare cause of primary hyperparathyroidism (HPT) with a high morbidity and patient death in advanced cases usually resulting from intractable hypercalcemia. Inactivation of the HRPT2/CDC73 gene, encoding the putative tumor-suppressor protein parafibromin and discovered in the context of the hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor (HPT-JT) syndrome, is a common, somatic event in most parathyroid cancers. Approximately 25% of patients with apparently sporadic parathyroid cancer carry germline HRPT2/CDC73 mutation. Germline DNA analysis for HRPT2/CDC73 mutation is recommended in all patients with parathyroid cancer because of the potential benefit for first-degree relatives, who should nevertheless undergo serum calcium screening. The histopathologic diagnosis of parathyroid cancer is nonspecific unless vascular, lymphatic, capsular, or soft tissue invasion is seen, or metastases are clinically evident. Immunohistochemical analysis of parathyroid tumors for loss of parafibromin expression offers promise as a diagnostic tool. En bloc tumor resection offers the highest chance of cure in patients with suspected parathyroid carcinoma. No adjuvant chemotherapy regimen has yet proven effective, and the role of local adjuvant radiotherapy is being evaluated. Metastatic disease can be palliated with surgical debulking. Medical therapy with the calcimimetic cinacalcet and bisphosphonates can ameliorate hypercalcemia in patients with inoperable disease.

Published by Elsevier Inc.

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