How are parathyroid adenomas diagnosed?
Too much calcium in the blood (hypercalcemia) may not cause any symptoms at all or can cause a number of symptoms and medical conditions. These include:
- Depression or mental confusion
- Kidney stones
- Bone and joint pain
- Abdominal pain
- General aches and pains from no obvious cause
Parathyroid adenomas are usually discovered when a higher-than-normal calcium level shows up in a routine blood test, particularly in people without symptoms. Doctors then confirm the diagnosis of primary hyperparathyroidism with a test that shows parathyroid hormone levels in the blood are higher than normal.
Patients with parathyroid cancer have symptoms including:
- Bone pain
- Kidney disease
- Extremely high levels of parathyroid hormone in the blood
- Neck masses that can be felt with the hand
Sometimes the diagnosis of cancer is difficult to make, even after surgery. This is because parathyroid cancer cells look very similar to noncancerous adenoma cells. However, parathyroid cancer is so rare (less than 1 percent of all cases) that many head and neck surgeons (otolaryngologists) never see a patient with it.