• adjuvant radiation therapy;
  • head and neck;
  • comprehensive surgical excision;
  • parathyroid carcinoma



A review of recent reports found a distinct clinical behavior pattern in the rare clinical entity of parathyroid carcinoma, although to the authors' knowledge information on oncogenetic changes, prognostic factors, and the potential benefits of adjuvant therapy remain fragmented and scarce. In this report, a composite review of the literature and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (M. D. Anderson) experience are presented using the presentation of a patient to illustrate critical issues in the evaluation and interdisciplinary management of patients who are afflicted with this disease.


The current study reflects a retrospective case review of patients who were diagnosed with parathyroid carcinoma, treated, and followed at M. D. Anderson from 1983 to 2002. To assure standardization of pathologic diagnosis as well as evaluations and interdisciplinary management, the investigators reviewed all cases using predetermined criteria within their specialties.


It is interesting to note that M. D. Anderson data showed classic pathologic features that were not always present in all parathyroid carcinomas (at most, some features were noted in 37% of patients). Other results of interest indicated local recurrence rates that appeared lower if adjuvant radiation was applied after initial surgery, independent of the type of surgery or disease stage. In the authors' experience, 70% of patient's tumors exhibited local invasion, although their 5-year survival rate of 85% was consistent with that reported previously, and their 10-year survival rate was somewhat higher at 77%.


Parathyroid carcinoma is a rare clinical entity that requires interdisciplinary evaluation and management. Comprehensive surgical excision of parathyroid carcinomas with verification of normalization of intraoperative parathyroid hormone levels should be sought. Cancer 2004;100:900–5. © 2004 American Cancer Society.