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11.12.2015 | ORIGINAL ARTICLE | Ausgabe 7/2016 Open Access

Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery 7/2016

Evaluation of malignant parathyroid tumours in two European cohorts of patients with sporadic primary hyperparathyroidism

Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery > Ausgabe 7/2016
Arturs Ozolins, Zenons Narbuts, Andrejs Vanags, Zane Simtniece, Zane Visnevska, Aycan Akca, Denis Wirowski, Janis Gardovskis, Ilze Strumfa, Peter E. Goretzki



Parathyroid carcinoma (PC) is remarkable for its rare occurrence and challenging diagnostics. PC accounts for 0.1–5 % cases of primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT). The differentiation from benign tumours is difficult even by morphological criteria. To address these issues, we assessed the PC frequency in two separate European PHPT cohorts and evaluated the demographic, clinical, morphological and molecular background.


A retrospective study was carried out, using continuously maintained database (2005–2014) of PHPT patients from two tertiary referral university hospitals in Europe. The demographic, clinical data and frequency of PC among surgically treated PHPT was detected. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed to detect parafibromin, representing protein product of HRPT2 gene and proliferation marker Ki-67.


Both PHPT cohorts were characterised by close mean age values (58.6 and 58.0 years) and female predominance. The frequency of PC differed significantly between the cohorts: 2.1 vs. 0.3 %; p = 0.004. PC was characterised by invariable complete loss of parafibromin contrasting with parathyroid adenomas. The proliferation fraction was similar in both PC cohorts (10.6 and 11.0 %). PC showed significantly higher proliferation fraction than typical parathyroid adenomas (1.6 %), atypical adenomas (1.6 %) or adenomas featuring focal loss of parafibromin (2.2 %).


PC frequency can range significantly between the two European cohorts. The differences can be attributable to selection bias of patients referred for surgery and are not caused by discordant definition of malignant parathyroid histology. Diffuse loss of parafibromin and increased proliferation fraction by Ki-67 are valuable adjuncts in PC diagnostics due to significant differences with various clinical and morphological subtypes of adenoma.

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