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Open access

Marina Tsoli, Anna Angelousi, Dimitra Rontogianni, Constantine Stratakis and Gregory Kaltsas

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.

Open access

Sachiko-Tsukamoto Kawashima, Takeshi Usui, Yohei Ueda, Maiko-Kakita Kobayashi, Mika Tsuiki, Kanako Tanase-Nakao, Kazutaka Nanba, Tetsuya Tagami, Mitsuhide Naruse, Yoshiki Watanabe, Ryo Asato, Sumiko Kato and Akira Shimatsu

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.