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Pediatric Parathyroid Masses

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Summary

A parathyroid mass is a tumor inside one of the parathyroid glands. Most parathyroid masses are noncancerous. The parathyroid glands are located in the front of your neck, close to your thyroid gland. Their job is to produce and secrete parathyroid hormone, which regulates the amount of calcium in your blood and bone. Parathyroid masses can cause an increase in the level of parathyroid hormone that is being released, leading to a condition called hyperparathyroidism.

Causes

The exact cause of parathyroid masses is unknown. As with all types of tumors, they manifest as a growth of abnormal cells that multiply rapidly.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for parathyroid masses may include:

  • A family history of parathyroid masses
  • Previous radiation to the head and neck
  • MEN

Symptoms

Many children with parathyroid masses will not experience any symptoms unless the tumor leads to hyperparathyroidism. Symptoms of hyperparathyroidism will differ from child to child, but may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Aches and pains
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Excessive urination
  • Fatigue
  • Kidney disease
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Test and Diagnosis

There are several methods that are used for diagnosing parathyroid masses. Your child’s doctor may use a combination of these methods:

  • History and physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound 

Treatment

The most common treatment for parathyroid masses is surgery to remove the tumor.

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