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People with parathyroid cancer may have questions about their prognosis and survival. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with a person’s medical history, type of cancer, stage, characteristics of the cancer, treatments chosen and response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.
A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect a person, and how it will respond to treatment. A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together and they both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.
The following are prognostic factors for parathyroid cancer. Neither tumour size nor lymph node status appears to play a role in prognosis.
Early diagnosis of parathyroid cancer, before or during surgery, is important for planning treatment. The disease may be diagnosed late because it is difficult to tell benign and malignant tumours apart and parathyroid cancer tends to be slow growing (indolent). Early recognition of parathyroid cancer indicates a more favourable prognosis.
Successful removal of the entire tumour during the first surgery is the most important prognostic factor.
Parathyroid cancer often comes back (recurs). It usually recurs years after initial symptoms appear. Recurrence within 2 years of diagnosis indicates a less favourable prognosis.
Control of the calcium level in the blood is important to maintain health. Most deaths due to parathyroid cancer result from the effects of hypercalcemia.
A person’s general health has an impact on how well they tolerate treatment, such as surgery. Surgery is used as a primary treatment and to treat recurrent disease.
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The Canadian Cancer Society is funding lifesaving clinical trials that give people with cancer access to the newest types of treatment.