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Adrian Po Zhu Li Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK

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Sheela Sathyanarayan Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK

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Salvador Diaz-Cano Departments of Cellular Pathology and Molecular Pathology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK
Division of Cancer Studies, King’s College London, London, UK

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Sobia Arshad Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK

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Eftychia E Drakou Department of Clinical Oncology, Guy’s Cancer Centre – Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Great Maze Pond, London, UK

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Royce P Vincent Department of Clinical Biochemistry, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK
Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, School of Life Course Sciences, King’s College London, London, UK

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Ashley B Grossman Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
Barts and the London School of Medicine, Centre for Endocrinology, William Harvey Institute, London, UK
Neuroendocrine Tumour Unit, Royal Free Hospital, London, UK

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Simon J B Aylwin Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK

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Georgios K Dimitriadis Department of Endocrinology ASO/EASO COM, King ’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London, UK
Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Immunometabolism Research Group, Department of Diabetes, Faculty of Life Sciences, School of Life Course Sciences, King’s College London, London, UK
Division of Reproductive Health, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

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Summary

A 49-year-old teacher presented to his general physician with lethargy and lower limb weakness. He had noticed polydipsia, polyuria, and had experienced weight loss, albeit with an increase in central adiposity. He had no concomitant illnesses and took no regular medications. He had hypercalcaemia (adjusted calcium: 3.34 mmol/L) with hyperparathyroidism (parathyroid hormone: 356 ng/L) and hypokalaemia (K: 2.7 mmol/L) and was admitted for i.v. potassium replacement. A contrast-enhanced CT chest/abdomen/pelvis scan revealed a well-encapsulated anterior mediastinal mass measuring 17 × 11 cm with central necrosis, compressing rather than invading adjacent structures. A neck ultrasound revealed a 2 cm right inferior parathyroid lesion. On review of CT imaging, the adrenals appeared normal, but a pancreatic lesion was noted adjacent to the uncinate process. His serum cortisol was 2612 nmol/L, and adrenocorticotrophic hormone was elevated at 67 ng/L, followed by inadequate cortisol suppression to 575 nmol/L from an overnight dexamethasone suppression test. His pituitary MRI was normal, with unremarkable remaining anterior pituitary biochemistry. His admission was further complicated by increased urine output to 10 L/24 h and despite three precipitating factors for the development of diabetes insipidus including hypercalcaemia, hypokalaemia, and hypercortisolaemia, due to academic interest, a water deprivation test was conducted. An 18flurodeoxyglucose-PET (FDG-PET) scan demonstrated high avidity of the mediastinal mass with additionally active bilateral superior mediastinal nodes. The pancreatic lesion was not FDG avid. On 68Ga DOTATE-PET scan, the mediastinal mass was moderately avid, and the 32 mm pancreatic uncinate process mass showed significant uptake. Genetic testing confirmed multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1.

Learning points

  • In young patients presenting with primary hyperparathyroidism, clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of other underlying endocrinopathies.

    In patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1) and ectopic adrenocorticotrophic hormone syndrome (EAS), clinicians should be alerted to the possibility of this originating from a neoplasm above or below the diaphragm.

  • Although relatively rare compared with sporadic cases, thymic carcinoids secondary to MEN-1 may also be associated with EAS.

  • Electrolyte derangement, in particular hypokalaemia and hypercalcaemia, can precipitate mild nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.

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Said Darawshi Department of Endocrinology, Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel
The Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Haifa, Israel

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Mahmoud Darawshi Clalit Health Services, Northern District – Arrabah, Israel

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Deeb Daoud Naccache Department of Endocrinology, Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa, Israel
The Faculty of Medicine, Technion, Haifa, Israel

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Severe hypocalcaemia in breast cancer with bone metastasis is a rare finding usually associated with an advanced stage of the disease. We report a case of a 45-year-old woman with a history of local ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast, who presented with muscle tremors and general weakness. Hypocalcaemia was evident, with a positive Chvostek sign and a serum calcium level of 5.9 mg/dL (1.47 mmol/L), phosphorus 5.9 mg/dL (normal range: 2.3–4.7 mg/dL) with normal levels of albumin, magnesium and parathyroid hormone. High oral doses of alpha calcitriol and calcium with i.v. infusion of high calcium doses were instituted, altogether sufficient to maintain only mild hypocalcaemia. A whole-body CT revealed bone lesions along the axial skeleton. A biopsy from a bone lesion revealed a metastasis of breast carcinoma. With this pathological finding, leuprolide (GNRH analogue) and chlorambucil (alkylating agent) were initiated, followed by prompt tapering of infused calcium down to full discontinuation. Serum calcium was kept stable close to the low normal range by high doses of oral alpha calcitriol and calcium. This course raises suspicion that breast metastases to the skeleton caused tumour-induced hypocalcaemia by a unique mechanism. We assume that hypocalcaemia in this case was promoted by a combination of hypoparathyroidism and bone metastasis.

Learning points

  • Severe hypocalcaemia can a presenting symptom for breast cancer relapse.

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Seong Keat Cheah Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Chad Ramese Bisambar Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Deborah Pitfield Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Olivier Giger Pathology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Rogier ten Hoopen Pathology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Jose-Ezequiel Martin Medical Genetics, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Graeme R Clark Medical Genetics, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Soo-Mi Park Medical Genetics, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Craig Parkinson Endocrinology, East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, Colchester, Essex, UK

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Benjamin G Challis Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Ruth T Casey Endocrinology, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK
Medical Genetics, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK

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Summary

A 38-year-old female was identified as carrying a heterozygous pathogenic MEN1 variant (c.1304delG) through predictive genetic testing, following a diagnosis of familial hyperparathyroidism. Routine screening for parathyroid and pituitary disease was negative. However, cross-sectional imaging by CT revealed a 41 mm pancreatic tail mass. Biopsy via endoscopic ultrasound confirmed the lesion to be a well-differentiated (grade 1) pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour (pNET) with MIB1<1%. Biochemically, hyperinsulinaemic hypoglycaemia was confirmed following an overnight fast, which was subsequently managed by diet alone prior to definitive surgery. Pre-operative work-up with octreotide SPECT CT demonstrated avid tracer uptake in the pancreatic lesion and, unexpectedly, a focal area of uptake in the left breast. Further investigation, and subsequent mastectomy, confirmed ductal carcinoma in situ pT2 (23 mm) grade 1, N0 (ER positive; HER2 negative). Following mastectomy, our patient underwent a successful distal pancreatectomy to resect the pNET. Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at the MEN1 locus was found in both the breast tumour and pNET, thereby in keeping with a 'two-hit' hypothesis of oncogenesis, a suggestive but non-definitive clue for causation. To obtain further support for a causative relationship between MEN1 and breast cancer, we undertook a detailed review of the published literature which overall supports the notion that breast cancer is a MEN1-related malignancy that presents at a younger age and histologically, is typically of ductal subtype. Currently, clinical guidance regarding breast cancer surveillance in MEN1 does not exist and further research is required to establish a clinical and cost-effective surveillance strategy).

Learning points

  • We describe a case of pNET and breast cancer diagnosed at a young age of 38 years in a patient who is heterozygous for a pathogenic MEN1 variant. Loss of the wild-type allele was seen in both breast tissue and pNET specimen.

  • Breast cancer may be an under-recognised MEN1-associated malignancy that presents at a younger age than in the general population with a relative risk of 2–3.

  • Further research is required to determine the cost-effectiveness of breast cancer surveillance approach at a younger age in MEN1 patients relative to the general population .

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Daniela Gallo Department of Medicine and Surgery, Endocrine Unit, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy

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Sara Rosetti Department of Medicine and Surgery, Endocrine Unit, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy

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Ilaria Marcon Department of Oncology, ASST dei Sette Laghi, Varese, Italy

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Elisabetta Armiraglio Pathology Unit, ASST Gaetano Pini, Centro Specialistico Ortopedico Traumatologico, Gaetano Pini-CTO, Milano, Italy

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Antonina Parafioriti Pathology Unit, ASST Gaetano Pini, Centro Specialistico Ortopedico Traumatologico, Gaetano Pini-CTO, Milano, Italy

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Graziella Pinotti Department of Oncology, ASST dei Sette Laghi, Varese, Italy

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Giuseppe Perrucchini I.R.C.C.S Istituto Ortopedico Galeazzi, Milano, Italy

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Bohdan Patera Department of Medicine and Surgery, Endocrine Unit, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy

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Linda Gentile Department of Medicine and Surgery, Endocrine Unit, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy

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Maria Laura Tanda Department of Medicine and Surgery, Endocrine Unit, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy

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Luigi Bartalena Department of Medicine and Surgery, Endocrine Unit, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy

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Eliana Piantanida Department of Medicine and Surgery, Endocrine Unit, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy

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Summary

Brown tumors are osteoclastic, benign lesions characterized by fibrotic stroma, intense vascularization and multinucleated giant cells. They are the terminal expression of the bone remodelling process occurring in advanced hyperparathyroidism. Nowadays, due to earlier diagnosis, primary hyperparathyroidism keeps few of the classical manifestations and brown tumors are definitely unexpected. Thus, it may happen that they are misdiagnosed as primary or metastatic bone cancer. Besides bone imaging, endocrine evaluation including measurement of serum parathyroid hormone and calcium (Ca) levels supports the pathologist to address the diagnosis. Herein, a case of multiple large brown tumors misdiagnosed as a non-treatable osteosarcoma is described, with special regards to diagnostic work-up. After selective parathyroidectomy, treatment with denosumab was initiated and a regular follow-up was established. The central role of multidisciplinary approach involving pathologist, endocrinologist and oncologist in the diagnostic and therapeutic work-up is reported. In our opinion, the discussion of this case would be functional especially for clinicians and pathologists not used to the differential diagnosis in uncommon bone disorders.

Learning points:

  • Brown tumors develop during the remodelling process of bone in advanced and long-lasting primary or secondary hyperparathyroidism.

  • Although rare, they should be considered during the challenging diagnostic work-up of giant cell lesions.

  • Coexistence of high parathyroid hormone levels and hypercalcemia in primary hyperparathyroidism is crucial for the diagnosis.

  • A detailed imaging study includes bone X-ray, bone scintiscan and total body CT; to rule out bone malignancy, evaluation of bone lesion biopsy should include immunostaining for neoplastic markers as H3G34W and Ki67 index.

  • If primary hyperparathyroidism is confirmed, selective parathyroidectomy is the first-line treatment.

  • In advanced bone disease, treatment with denosumab should be considered, ensuring a strict control of Ca levels.

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Marina Tsoli Department of Pathophysiology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Anna Angelousi Department of Pathophysiology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Dimitra Rontogianni Department of Histopathology, Evagelismos General Hospital, Athens, Greece

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Constantine Stratakis Section 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

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Gregory Kaltsas Department of Pathophysiology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Summary

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.

Learning points:

  • 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.

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Rowena Speak Departments of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield

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Jackie Cook Department of Genetics, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Sheffield, UK

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Barney Harrison Endocrine Surgery, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK

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John Newell-Price Departments of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield
Endocrinology

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Mutations of the rearranged during transfection (RET) proto-oncogene, located on chromosome 10q11.2, cause multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN2A). Patients with mutations at the codon 609 usually exhibit a high penetrance of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), but a sufficiently low penetrance of phaeochromocytoma that screening for this latter complication has been called to question. Patients with other RET mutations are at higher risk of younger age onset phaeochromocytoma if they also possess other RET polymorphisms (L769L, S836S, G691S and S904S), but there are no similar data for patients with 609 mutations. We investigated the unusual phenotypic presentation in a family with MEN2A due to a C609Y mutation in RET. Sanger sequencing of the entire RET-coding region and exon–intron boundaries was performed. Five family members were C609Y mutation positive: 3/5 initially presented with phaeochromocytoma, but only 1/5 had MTC. The index case aged 73 years had no evidence of MTC, but presented with phaeochromocytoma. Family members also possessed the G691S and S904S RET polymorphisms. We illustrate a high penetrance of phaeochromocytoma and low penetrance of MTC in patients with a RET C609Y mutation and polymorphisms G691S and S904S. These data highlight the need for life-long screening for the complications of MEN2A in these patients and support the role for the screening of RET polymorphisms for the purposes of risk stratification.

Learning points:

  • C609Y RET mutations may be associated with a life-long risk of phaeochromocytoma indicating the importance of life-long screening for this condition in patients with MEN2A.

  • C609Y RET mutations may be associated with a lower risk of MTC than often quoted, questioning the need for early prophylactic thyroid surgery discussion at the age of 5 years.

  • There may be a role for the routine screening of RET polymorphisms, and this is greatly facilitated by the increasing ease of access to next-generation sequencing.

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Reiner Jumpertz von Schwartzenberg Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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Ulf Elbelt Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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Manfred Ventz Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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Knut Mai Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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Tina Kienitz Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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Lukas Maurer Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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Thomas Rose Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Medical Department, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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Jens C Rückert Department of General Visceral Vascular and Thoracic Surgery, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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Christian J Strasburger Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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Joachim Spranger Department of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases, Charité – Universitätsmedizin, Charitéplatz 1, Berlin, 10117, Germany

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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.

Learning points

  • 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.

Open access
Sachiko-Tsukamoto Kawashima Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, Kyoto, Japan
Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism Tango Central Hospital, Kyoto, Japan

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Takeshi Usui Clinical Research Institute

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Yohei Ueda Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, Kyoto, Japan

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Maiko-Kakita Kobayashi Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, Kyoto, Japan

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Mika Tsuiki Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, Kyoto, Japan

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Kanako Tanase-Nakao Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, Kyoto, Japan

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Kazutaka Nanba Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, Kyoto, Japan

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Tetsuya Tagami Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, Kyoto, Japan

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Mitsuhide Naruse Clinical Research Institute

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Yoshiki Watanabe Department of Head and Neck Surgery, National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, 1-1 Mukaihata-cho, Fukakusa, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto 612-8555, Japan

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Ryo Asato Department of Head and Neck Surgery, National Hospital Organization Kyoto Medical Center, 1-1 Mukaihata-cho, Fukakusa, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto 612-8555, Japan

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Sumiko Kato Osaka Saiseikai Ibaraki Hospital, Osaka, Japan

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Akira Shimatsu Clinical Research Institute

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Summary

Parathyroid cystic adenomas are often misdiagnosed as thyroid cysts and routine preoperative diagnostic tools, such as ultrasonography (US) or 99m technetium-sestamibi (99mTc-MIBI) scans, cannot clearly distinguish between these entities. We present a 67-year-old hypercalcemic woman with a cervical cystic lesion who had negative sestamibi scan results. Her laboratory data indicated primary hyperparathyroidism (serum calcium concentration 14.0 mg/dl, phosphate concentration 2.3 mg/dl, and intact parathyroid hormone (PTH) concentration 239 pg/ml). The cervical US and computed tomography scans revealed a large and vertically long cystic mass (12×11×54 mm). A mass was located from the upper end of the left thyroid lobe to the submandibular region and was not clearly distinguishable from the thyroid. For preoperative definitive diagnosis, we carried out a parathyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) and PTH assay (PTH–FNA) of liquid aspirated from the cyst. The intact PTH–FNA concentration was 1.28×106 pg/ml, and the patient was diagnosed with primary hyperparathyroidism due to a cystic mass. She underwent a left upper parathyroidectomy and her serum calcium and intact PTH concentration immediately decreased to normal levels. This report describes the usefulness of PTH–FNA for localizing and differentiating an atypical functional parathyroid lesion from nonfunctional tissue in primary hyperparathyroidism.

Learning points

  • Cystic parathyroid lesions, even in the case of elevated PTH levels, can produce negative results in 99mTc-MIBI scans.

  • Preoperative diagnosis of parathyroid cysts detectable on US is possible by parathyroid FNA and PTH assay (PTH–FNA) of liquid aspirated from the cyst, if malignancy is not suspected.

  • PTH–FNA could be helpful in the differential diagnosis of an equivocal cervical tumor.

Open access