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The Center for Endocrine Tumors at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center is a comprehensive program specializing in the treatment of all types of endocrine conditions, including those of the parathyroid.
The most common parathyroid disorder is an overactivity of the parathyroid gland(s) called primary hyperparathyroidism where the parathyroid glands overproduce the chemical called parathyroid hormone. This results in an elevated level of serum calcium and may cause kidney stones and bone deterioration.
Although most hyperparathyroidism is due to benign (non-cancerous) parathyroid tumors our program combines the resources of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and the Mass General Endocrinology Unit and Thyroid Unit to provide advanced treatment for all patients with parathyroid disorders.
Our program is one of the oldest, largest and most specialized in the country in treating parathyroid conditions as well as other disorders of the endocrine system. Among the innovations that make our program distinct are:
An accurate diagnosis is the key to planning the right treatment. Years ago, the diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism was somewhat difficult, but it has been made easier with improvements in our ability to detect the hormone PTH accurately. Hyperparathyroidism can now usually be diagnosed with a simple blood test to detect elevated calcium levels in the blood. If a patient has elevated PTH levels, along with an elevation in serum calcium, the diagnosis is most often primary hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism may also be diagnosed when a patient has an elevated serum calcium and a normal parathyroid hormone concentration or a high normal calcium and an elevated parathyroid hormone concentration.
Our endocrine surgery program is one of the oldest in the country, and is recognized for having among the most specialized surgeons in treating parathyroid and endocrine disorders. This level of specialization has resulted in a high volume practice, which research has shown improves outcomes for patients.
Our surgeons use the most state-of-the art technologies, and have pioneered and continue to advance minimally invasive techniques. Our goal is to be as conservative as possible with surgery without compromising care. Extreme attention is paid to the cosmetic appearance of the incision and to make the approach as minimally invasive as possible.
Recently, a new approach to parathyroidectomy has been developed called minimally-invasive parathyroidectomy. This involves smaller incisions, more limited neck exploration, and testing of PTH hormone levels during the operation. In rare and highly selected cases, radioguidance, which uses a special dye that concentrates in the enlarged parathyroid gland, is used as well. A special probe is then used at the time of surgery to help identify the precise location of the parathyroid tumor, allowing for a smaller incision and less disruption to surrounding healthy tissue. The success rate with these new techniques has been extremely high.
Our physician researchers are working at all levels of research to advance therapies for parathyroid conditions as well as all disorders of the endocrine system in order to improve the lives of all our patients.
Patients in the Endocrine Tumor Program are often cared for by a coordinated highly specialized multidisciplinary team that includes:
The Center for Endocrine Tumors is conducting clinical trials for patients with advanced endocrine cancers, including ongoing prospective, multidisciplinary studies in benign and malignant thyroid and parathyroid disease.
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