Why choose us for parathyroid tumor and cancer care?
Parathyroid tumors are abnormal growths in your neck that rarely become cancerous. They can cause abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood, leading to heart, brain, bone and kidney problems. Experts at Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, specialize in treating these conditions, so you can get the care you need in one program.
Endocrine and head and neck surgeons work alongside other cancer experts to deliver the therapies that are right for your situation. When patients need surgery, we offer focused parathyroidectomy that offers precise care with small incisions.
Your parathyroid glands are part of the endocrine system. This network of glands produces hormones that help organs do their job.
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What you need to know about parathyroid tumors and cancer
- You have four parathyroid glands located near your voice box and windpipe. These glands secrete chemical messengers (hormones) to regulate calcium. Calcium controls muscle and nerve activity throughout the body.
- With parathyroid tumors and cancer, the body produces abnormally high levels of calcium. You might not notice any problems at first, but too much calcium gradually interferes with organ functioning.
- Parathyroid tumors can also be due to hyperparathyroidism. With this condition, the parathyroid produces abnormally high levels of hormones. Not all cases of hyperparathyroidism are caused by tumors.
- Some people do not experience symptoms, especially if the tumor is small. The first sign of a problem may be higher than normal calcium levels on a blood test taken for other reasons.
- Most people with parathyroid disease are at risk for bone tissue weakening (osteoporosis). When your bones are weak, you face a higher risk of fractures. Timely care from experienced specialists, such as ours, helps you manage this risk.
How to talk to your doctor about parathyroid tumors or cancer
It’s natural to have questions after learning you have parathyroid tumors or cancer. Our doctors are here for you with the answers and reassurance you need.
You might want to ask your doctor about:
- Additional testing that you may need to evaluate abnormal growth or personalize your care
- Diagnosis, including whether it’s cancer
- Treatment options, which typically includes surgery even if it’s not cancer
- Potential treatment side effects and what we can do to help you get relief
- Support to help you manage challenges that could get in the way of your treatment
We explain tests and treatments in ways you can understand, so you know what to expect. You can also bring loved ones with you to care appointments to help you make care decisions.
Conditions we evaluate and treat include:
- Parathyroid hyperplasia: This noncancerous condition occurs when all four parathyroid glands become swollen and overactive. It’s often due to inherited conditions, such as multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN).
- Parathyroid tumor (adenoma): These noncancerous tumors form in one or more parathyroid glands.
- Parathyroid cancer (carcinoma): These fast-growing cancerous growths are rare and require timely care.
If the tumor or cancer is large, or excess calcium has been building up in your blood, you may experience:
- Intense thirst
- Kidney stones
- Mental fog or forgetfulness
- Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite
- Osteoporosis and bone fractures
- Pain, especially in your bones
We perform blood tests to check whether your calcium levels are higher than normal. We often use imaging tests such as ultrasound scans, which use soundwaves to pinpoint and analyze abnormal growths.
Treatment typically includes removing one parathyroid gland.
For adenomas, we often use focused parathyroidectomy. This technique uses small incisions and real-time gland function testing to confirm the source of the excess calcium. Focused parathyroidectomy is an outpatient procedure, meaning you go home the same day.
Research and clinical trials
Our active involvement in cancer research means you may be able to receive innovative new treatments through clinical trials, if eligible. Get more information about cancer clinical trials and research.
Make an appointment
Take the first step by visiting our cancer experts for testing, a second opinion or to learn about treatment options.
View endocrine tumor clinical trial opportunities
Clinical trials help researchers evaluate new therapies before making them available to the public. Mays Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center in Central and South Texas, which gives eligible patients early access to clinical trials.
Meet our team
Our team includes cancer experts from different medical specialties who share a commitment to delivering precise, personalized care.