Hypercalcemia (Elevated Calcium Levels) (cont.)
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The most common cause of high calcium levels (hypercalcemia) is an overproduction of parathyroid hormone, or hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism tends to be more common in women, and occurs in 25 out of every 100,000 individuals. Hyperparathyroidism can be the result of all four parathyroid glands producing an excessive amount of parathyroid hyperplasia (PTH), or the result of just one gland specifically producing an excessive amount of PTH (usually the result of a parathyroid adenoma or benign tumor).
Other medical conditions can be associated with high calcium levels (non-parathyroid hypercalcemia). Some of these conditions are not serious; however, they may vary in severity and chronicity. For example, hypocalciuric hypercalcemia is an inherited condition in which individuals do not excrete normal amounts of calcium, thus calcium levels are usually slightly elevated. Patients with hypocalciuric hypercalcemia have little or no symptoms so it is generally discovered incidentally through routine blood tests. Other causes of hypercalcemia can be life-threatening. Cancers are commonly associated with elevated calcium levels and are referred to as "hypercalcemia of malignancy." Twenty to forty percent of patients with cancer will develop hypercalcemia at some point in their disease.
Other conditions associated with hypercalcemia include:
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