Emergencies due to malignancies usually have a severe clinical course and require urgent treatment. These scenarios are dubbed ‘oncologic emergencies’. Parathyroid tumours often cause hypercalcaemia but not oncologic emergencies. We present a case of parathyroid carcinoma with severe hypercalcaemia and pancreatitis, resolved by surgical resection of the tumour assisted by extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). A 66-year-old woman presented to our hospital because of haematuria. Laboratory findings were as follows: white blood cell count: 30 000, C-reactive protein: 17.7, calcium: 21.9, creatine kinase: 316, creatine kinase-myoglobin binding: 20, troponin I: 1415.8, amylase: 1046, lipase: 499, blood urea nitrogen: 57, and creatinine: 2.42. ECG was unremarkable. CT revealed a 4-cm low-density irregular tumour in the left lobe of the thyroid gland and severe pancreatitis. We diagnosed hypercalcaemia and pancreatitis due to parathyroid carcinoma. Volume expansion with isotonic saline was started immediately. Calcitonin, followed by denosumab, calcimimetic agents, and continuous hemodiafiltration were administered. The patient’s general condition worsened due to uncontrolled hypercalcaemia. Urgent tumour resection was planned, assisted with ECMO for cardiopulmonary support and surgical field venous pressure reduction. Tumour histology was suggestive of parathyroid carcinoma. Hypercalcaemia and the patient’s general condition improved gradually postoperatively. Hypercalcaemia is one of the oncologic emergency symptoms, commonly occurring because of lytic bone metastasis. However, reports about parathyroid carcinoma-causing life-threatening hypercalcaemia and pancreatitis are scarce; the fatality of this condition is estimated to be 30–70%. We report a case of survival of hypercalcaemia of malignancy.
Parathyroid carcinoma is relatively rare and sometimes causes emergent conditions such as hypercalcaemia and severe pancreatitis.
General therapy for hypercalcaemia including aggressive saline dehydration, administration of furosemide, calcitonin, zoledronic acid, and evocalcet, and dialysis is sometimes ineffective for parathyroid carcinoma. Therefore, careful planning of therapy in case of exacerbation is important.
During an emergency, rapid surgical treatment despite high calcium level is the best potential therapeutic strategy.
Constantine StratakisSection on Endocrinology and Genetics, Program on Developmental Endocrinology and Genetics, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
Parathyroid carcinoma is an extremely rare endocrine malignancy that accounts for less than 1% of cases of primary hyperparathyroidism. We report a 44-year-old woman who presented with fatigue and diffuse bone pain. Laboratory findings revealed highly elevated serum calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels and a 4.5 × 3 × 2.5 cm cystic lesion in the lower pole of the right thyroid lobe that was shown histologically to be a parathyroid carcinoma. Ten years later, the patient developed brain and pulmonary metastases and recurrence of PTH-related hypercalcemia. Treatment of hypercalcemia along with localized radiotherapy and various chemotherapy regimens failed to induce a biochemical or radiological response. In conclusion, parathyroid carcinoma is a rare neoplasia that may develop metastases even after prolonged follow-up, for which there is no evidence-based treatment besides surgery. Different chemotherapeutic schemes did not prove to be of any benefit in our case highlighting the need for registering such patients to better understand tumor biology and develop specific treatment.
Metastases can develop many years after parathyroid cancer diagnosis.
Surgery is the only curative treatment for parathyroid carcinoma.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy prove to be ineffective in parathyroid cancer treatment.
Patient registering is required in order to delineate underlining pathology and offer specific treatment.
The use of in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) is rapidly emerging as an important clinical tool to evaluate changes in corneal sensory nerves as a surrogate measure for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Commonly used metrics to document and grade the severity of diabetes and risk for diabetic peripheral neuropathy include nerve fiber length, density, branching and tortuosity. In addition to corneal nerves, thinning of the retinal fiber layer has been shown to correlate with the severity of diabetic disease. Here, we present a case report on a pre-diabetic 60-year-old native American woman with abnormal corneal nerve morphology and retinal nerve fiber layer thinning. Her past medical history was positive for illicit substance abuse. IVCM showed a decrease in nerve fiber density and length, in addition to abnormally high levels of tortuosity. OCT revealed focal areas of reduced retinal nerve fiber layer thickness that were asymmetric between eyes. This is the first report of abnormally high levels of tortuosity in the corneal sub-basal nerve plexus in a patient with a past history of cocaine abuse. It also demonstrates, for the first time, that illicit substance abuse can have long-term adverse effects on ocular nerves for years following discontinued use of the drug. Studies using IVCM to evaluate changes in corneal nerve morphology in patients with diabetes need to consider a past history of illicit drug use as an exclusionary measure.
Multiple ocular and systemic factors can impede accurate assessment of the corneal sub-basal nerve plexus by IVCM in diabetes.
Although current history was negative for illicit substance abuse, past history can have longstanding effects on corneal nerves and the retinal nerve fiber layer.
Illicit drug use must be considered an exclusionary measure when evaluating diabetes-induced changes in corneal nerve morphology and the retinal nerve fiber layer.
Parathyroid carcinoma is an extremely rare disorder with little treatment options. It could be misdiagnosed in medical centers with little experience in management of such cases. Our clinical case shows that the initial misdiagnosis of a parathyroid carcinoma in a young woman has led to the development of multiple lung metastases, thus making its treatment hardly possible. Initiation of treatment with sorafenib – a multi-kinase inhibitor approved for treatment of different types of cancer but not parathyroid carcinoma – has led to a significant decrease in the size of lung metastases and has prevented the progression of hyperparathyroidism, which is usually severe in cases of parathyroid carcinoma. The detection of a germline CDC73 mutation in this patient has raised additional concerns about the necessity of periodic screening for early detection of renal, jaw and uterine lesions.
Diagnosis of parathyroid carcinoma may be challenging due to the absence of reliable diagnostic criteria. Thus, thorough histological examination is needed using immunohistochemical staining of resected tissue in suspicious cases.
CDC73 genetic testing should be considered in patients with parathyroid carcinoma.
Sorafenib may be a promising treatment of patients with parathyroid carcinoma with distant metastases.
Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare disease leading to severe hypercalcemia due to hyperparathyroidism. Surgery is the primary treatment option. A more progressive form of the disease is characterized by parathyrotoxicosis, and subsequent hypercalcemia is the most common cause of death. We report a case presenting with severe hypercalcemia due to parathyrotoxicosis from parathyroid carcinoma treated for the first time using the monoclonal antibody denosumab as a rescue therapy and present long-term follow-up data. The 71-year-old patient presented with severe hypercalcemia due to metastatic parathyroid carcinoma. Despite undergoing treatment with bisphosphonates, cinacalcet hydrochloride, and forced diuresis, the patient`s condition deteriorated rapidly due to resistant hypercalcemia. Surgery performed because of spinal metastasis and forced diuresis lowered calcium levels, albeit they remained in the hypercalcemic range and significantly increased when forced diuresis was stopped. Considering a palliative situation to overcome hypercalcemia, we decided to administer denosumab, a monoclonal antibody that binds to the receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B ligand. After a single subcutaneous administration of 60 mg denosumab, calcium levels normalized within one day. Subsequent denosumab injections led to permanent control of serum calcium for more than 2 years despite rising parathyroid hormone levels and repeated surgeries. Together with recent cases in the literature supporting our observation, we believe that denosumab is relevant for future trials and represents an effective tool to control hypercalcemia in patients with advanced stages of parathyroid cancer.
Severe hypercalcemia is the most common cause of death in patients with parathyroid carcinoma.
The monoclonal antibody denosumab rapidly lowered severely elevated serum calcium levels due to parathyrotoxicosis.
Denosumab was effective in the long-term treatment of hypercalcemia despite progression of parathyroid carcinoma.
We present the case of a patient with metastatic parathyroid carcinoma whose hypercalcaemia was medically managed through two pregnancies. The diagnosis was made when the patient presented with chronic knee pain and radiological findings consistent with a brown tumour, at the age of 30. Her corrected calcium and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels were significantly elevated. Following localisation studies, a right parathyroidectomy was performed with histology revealing parathyroid carcinoma, adherent to thyroid tissue. Aged 33, following biochemical recurrence of disease, the patient underwent a second operation. A subsequent CT and FDG–PET revealed bibasal pulmonary metastases. Aged 35, the patient was referred to our unit for treatment of persistent hypercalcaemia. The focus of treatment at this time was debulking metastatic disease using radiofrequency ablation. Despite advice to the contrary, the patient conceived twice while taking cinacalcet. Even though there are limited available data regarding the use of cinacalcet in pregnancy, both pregnancies continued to term with the delivery of healthy infants, using intensive medical management for persistent hypercalcaemia.
Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare cause of primary hyperparathyroidism.
Hypercalcaemia during pregnancy can result in significant complications for both the mother and the foetus.
The use of high-dose cinacalcet in pregnancy has been shown, in this case, to aid in the management of resistant hypercalcaemia without teratogenicity.