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Parathyroid Disease

Our Approach

MD Anderson's Endocrine Center brings together some of the nation's top authorities to treat and diagnose benign (not cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) parathyroid disease. Our program is one of the few in the nation that specializes in both these common (benign) and rare (cancerous) forms of parathyroid disease. This means we have a level of experience and expertise that help improve your outlook for successful treatment.

You care is customized by a team of experts from many disciplines, including endocrinologists, oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgeons, as well as a specially trained support staff. They communicate and collaborate closely with each other and with you to ensure the most effective coordinated care.

Our pathologists specialize in parathyroid disorders and are adept at concise diagnosis of parathyroid disease. If surgery is needed, our highly skilled surgeons employ the latest techniques, including minimally invasive and laparoscopic techniques in some cases.

We are constantly researching new and better ways to fight parathyroid disease. This means we are able to offer clinical trials of new treatments that might not be available elsewhere.

If you have been diagnosed with parathyroid disease, we're here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • High level of experience with this disease
  • Treatment for both benign and rare, malignant types
  • Accurate diagnosis by specialized pathologists
  • Skilled surgeons, advanced techniques, including minimally invasive procedures
  • Clinical trials of new therapies

Parathyroid Disease Knowledge Center

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Parathyroid Disease Facts

The parathyroid glands are four small glands behind the thyroid gland. They usually are about the size of a kernel of corn. Usually, one parathyroid gland is located near each corner of the thyroid. Some people are missing a parathyroid gland or have an extra one. The parathyroid glands may be misplaced in other glands but still work normally.

Parathyroid glands make parathyroid hormone (PTH), which controls the levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. PTH also helps the body make vitamin D and helps prevent loss of too much calcium in the urine.

Parathyroid Disease Types

Hyperparathyroidism (HPT)

Hyperparathyroidism means the parathyroid makes too much PTH. Usually this is caused by an adenoma, which is a benign tumor on the parathyroid. Too much PTH may cause too much calcium in the blood, which is called hypercalcemia. This can cause serious problems, including osteoporosis (weakening of the bones) and kidney stones.

Parathyroid Cancer

Cancer of the parathyroid glands is extremely rare. Sometimes parathyroid cancer causes hyperparathyroidism (HPT), which means the body makes too much PTH. However, less than 1% of people with HPT have parathyroid cancer. Men and women have the same risk for parathyroid disease, which usually strikes people in their 50s.

Although parathyroid cancer progresses slowly, it often comes back after treatment. The cancer returns at the original site in 36% to 80% of patients, anywhere from one month to 19 years after it was first treated. The average time before return is about two and a half years. Controlling the level of calcium in the blood can help people have longer disease-free periods between recurrences.

Hypoparathyroidism

Hypoparathyroidism means the body does not make enough PTH and the calcium level in the blood is too low. Hypoparathyroidism usually is caused by neck surgery or damage to the parathyroid glands.


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