Primary hyperparathyroidism is most often caused by a tumor of one or more of the parathyroid glands. However, in the vast majority of patients, the tumor is benign. In fact, cancer of the parathyroid occurs in less than one in a million people. Furthermore, patients with parathyroid cancer typically present with very high calcium levels (greater than 13 mg/dL) and PTH levels (greater than 400 pg/mL).
Parathyroid cancers often invade the surrounding tissues and local organs and surgery is indicated to remove part of the thyroid, the cancer itself and any surround tissue that is involved.
Patients with parathyroid cancer require lifelong surveillance for potential recurrence with blood tests and imaging studies.