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Parathyroid hormone-related protein blood test

The parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTH-RP) test measures the level of a hormone in the blood, called parathyroid hormone-related protein.

Alternative Names

PTHrp; PTH-related peptide

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is necessary.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or slight bruising. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is done to find out whether a high blood calcium level is caused by an increase in PTH-related protein.

Normal Results

No detectable (or minimal) PTH-like protein is normal.

Women who are breastfeeding may have detectable PTH-related protein values.

The examples above are common measurements for results for these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or may test different specimens. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Increased levels of PTH-related protein with high blood calcium level is usually caused by cancer.

PTH-related protein can be produced by many different kinds of cancers, including those of the lung, breast, head, neck, bladder, and ovaries, as well as leukemia and lymphoma. A high level of PTH-related protein is the cause of a high calcium level in about two-thirds of cancer patients. This condition is called humoral hypercalcemia of malignancy (HHM).

Risks

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Bringhurst FR, Demay MB, Kronenberg HM. Hormones and disorders of mineral metabolism. Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 28.

Wysolmerski JJ, Insogna KL. The parathyroid glands, hypercalcemia, and hypocalcemia. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 253.

Updated: 11/7/2013

Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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