World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 147-153

First online:

Parathyroid Carcinoma Encountered After Minimally Invasive Focused Parathyroidectomy may not Require Further Radical Surgery

  • Christine J. O’NeillAffiliated withUniversity of Sydney Endocrine Surgical Unit
  • , Conan ChanAffiliated withUniversity of Sydney Endocrine Surgical Unit
  • , James SymonsAffiliated withUniversity of Sydney Endocrine Surgical Unit
  • , Diana L. LearoydAffiliated withDepartment of Endocrinology, Royal North Shore Hospital
  • , Stan B. SidhuAffiliated withUniversity of Sydney Endocrine Surgical Unit
  • , Leigh W. DelbridgeAffiliated withUniversity of Sydney Endocrine Surgical Unit
  • , Anthony GillAffiliated withDepartment of Anatomical Pathology, Royal North Shore HospitalUniversity of Sydney
  • , Mark S. SywakAffiliated withUniversity of Sydney Endocrine Surgical Unit Email author 

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Parathyroid carcinoma accounts for <1% of tumors in primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT). Distinguishing parathyroid malignancy from benign disease is difficult both before and after initial surgery. Despite the improved specificity of a malignant diagnosis with immunohistochemistry for parafibromin and PGP9.5, proven metastatic behavior remains the gold standard of diagnosis. Minimally invasive focused parathyroidectomy (MIP) is widely performed in patients with PHPT and positive localization studies; thus, it is inevitable that some parathyroid caricnomas will be encountered at MIP. We present our experience of this rare entity.


The present study represents a surgical case series of patients with parathyroid carcinoma encountered after MIP. The clinicopathological features of benign and malignant parathyroid tumors were compared. Multiple regression analysis was undertaken to compare indicators of malignancy.


Between May 1999 and April 2010, a total of 1,292 patients underwent MIP at the University of Sydney Endocrine Surgical Unit, and a histopathological diagnosis of parathyroid carcinoma was made in seven patients (0.5%). Staining for parafibromin and/or PGP9.5 was abnormal in five carcinomas (71%). Despite subsequent unilateral thyroid lobectomy and lymphadenectomy in six patients, no further malignancy was identified in any specimens. Compared to controls, preoperative calcium (p = 0.04) and parathyroid hormone (p = 0.01) were significantly higher in patients with malignancy. The positive predictive value of these parameters for carcinoma was 56 and 75%, respectively.


In patients diagnosed with parathyroid carcinoma after MIP where preoperative imaging had already demonstrated localized disease, revision en bloc surgery did not reveal any residual disease. The benefits of further radical surgery for parathyroid carcinoma after MIP remain controversial.