Glossary of Terms
listen (KAH-ler dih-ZEEZ) A type of cancer that begins in plasma cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies). Also called multiple myeloma, myelomatosis, and plasma cell myeloma.
listen (kuh-LEH-truh) A combination of the drugs ritonavir and lopinavir. It is used to treat infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). It is also being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer. Kaletra blocks the ability of HIV to make copies of itself and may help other anticancer drugs work better or may block the growth of cancer cells. Ritonavir blocks the breakdown of lopinavir. Kaletra is a type of anti-HIV agent and a type of protease inhibitor. Also called lopinavir/ritonavir.
listen (kuh-POH-zee sar-KOH-muh) A type of cancer in which lesions (abnormal areas) grow in the skin, lymph nodes, lining of the mouth, nose, and throat, and other tissues of the body. The lesions are usually purple and are made of cancer cells, new blood vessels, and blood cells. They may begin in more than one place in the body at the same time. Kaposi sarcoma is caused by Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). In the United States, it usually occurs in people who have a weak immune system caused by AIDS or by drugs used in organ transplants. It is also seen in older men of Jewish or Mediterranean descent, or in young men in Africa.
Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus
listen (kuh-POH-zee sar-KOH-muh-uh-SOH-see-ay-ted HER-peez-VY-rus) A type of virus that causes Kaposi sarcoma (a rare cancer in which lesions grow in the skin, lymph nodes, lining of the mouth, nose, and throat, and other tissues of the body). Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus also causes certain types of lymphoma (cancer that begins in cells of the immune system). Also called HHV8, human herpesvirus 8, and KSHV.
listen (kuh-REH-nih-TEE-kan) A drug being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of topoisomerase inhibitor. It is related to the anticancer drug camptothecin.
Karnofsky Performance Status
listen (kar-NOF-skee per-FOR-munts STA-tus) A standard way of measuring the ability of cancer patients to perform ordinary tasks. The Karnofsky Performance Status scores range from 0 to 100. A higher score means the patient is better able to carry out daily activities. Karnofsky Performance Status may be used to determine a patient's prognosis, to measure changes in a patients ability to function, or to decide if a patient could be included in a clinical trial. Also called KPS.
Kassebaum Kennedy Act
listen (KAH-seh-bawm KEH-nuh-dee ...) A 1996 U.S. law that allows workers and their families to keep their health insurance when they change or lose their jobs. The law also includes standards for setting up secure electronic health records and to protect the privacy of a persons health information and to keep it from being misused. Also called Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and HIPAA.
listen (KAH-vuh KAH-vuh) An herb native to islands in the South Pacific. Substances taken from the root have been used in some cultures to relieve stress, anxiety, tension, sleeplessness, and problems of menopause. Kava kava may increase the effect of alcohol and of certain drugs used to treat anxiety and depression. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises users that kava kava may cause severe liver damage. The scientific name is Piper methysticum. Also called intoxicating pepper, rauschpfeffer, tonga, and yangona.
listen (KEE-loyd) A thick, irregular scar caused by excessive tissue growth at the site of an incision or wound.
listen (kelp) A type of seaweed. The stem-like parts of this plant have been used in some cultures to treat certain medical problems. It may have immunostimulatory and anticancer effects. The scientific name is Laminaria digitata.
listen (KEM-stroh) A drug that is used to treat certain types of muscle spasms and is being studied in the treatment of liver cancer. Kemstro relaxes muscles by blocking certain nerve receptors in the spinal cord. It is a type of antispasmodic. Also called baclofen and Lioresal.
listen (KEH-puh-vants) A form of keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) that is made in the laboratory. KGF stimulates the growth of cells that line the surface of the mouth and intestinal tract. Kepivance is used to prevent and treat oral mucositis (mouth sores) caused by high-dose chemotherapy and radiation therapy in leukemia and lymphoma. It is also being studied in the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) in other types of cancer. Kepivance is a type of recombinant human keratinocyte growth factor. Also called palifermin.
listen (KEH-pruh) A drug used to treat seizures (involuntary muscle movements) caused by epilepsy (a group of brain disorders). Keppra is being studied in the treatment of seizures in patients with cancer that has spread to the brain. It is a type of anticonvulsant. Also called levetiracetam.
listen (KAYR-uh-tan SUL-fayt) A glycosaminoglycan (a type of polysaccharide) found in cartilage and in the cornea of the eye.
listen (KAYR-uh-tin) A type of protein found on epithelial cells, which line the inside and outside surfaces of the body. Keratins help form the tissues of the hair, nails, and the outer layer of the skin. They are also found on cells in the lining of organs, glands, and other parts of the body. Certain keratins may be found in higher than normal amounts in patients with different types of epithelial cell cancers, including lung, breast, colorectal, bladder, and head and neck cancers. Measuring the amount of specific keratins in the blood may help to plan cancer treatment or find out how well treatment is working or if cancer has come back. A keratin is a type of tumor marker. Also called cytokeratin.
keratinocyte growth factor
listen (keh-RA-tih-noh-site grothe FAK-ter) A natural substance that stimulates the growth of epithelial cells in the skin and in the lining of the mouth, stomach, and intestines. A form of keratinocyte growth factor made in the laboratory is called recombinant human keratinocyte growth factor. Also called KGF.
listen (KAYR-uh-toh-AK-un-THOH-muh) A rapidly growing, dome-shaped skin tumor that usually occurs on sun-exposed areas of the body, especially around the head and neck. Keratoacanthoma occurs more often in males. Although in most patients it goes away on its own, in a few patients it comes back. Rarely, it may spread to other parts of the body.
listen (KEE-tuh-lar) A drug used to cause a loss of feeling and awareness and to induce sleep in patients having surgery. It is also being studied in the treatment of nerve pain caused by chemotherapy. Ketalar blocks pathways to the brain that are involved in sensing pain. It is a type of general anesthetic. Also called ketamine and ketamine hydrochloride.
listen (KEE-tuh-meen) A drug used to cause a loss of feeling and awareness and to induce sleep in patients having surgery. It is also being studied in the treatment of nerve pain caused by chemotherapy. Ketamine blocks pathways to the brain that are involved in sensing pain. It is a type of general anesthetic. Also called Ketalar and ketamine hydrochloride.
listen (KEE-tuh-meen HY-droh-KLOR-ide) A drug used to cause a loss of feeling and awareness and to induce sleep in patients having surgery. It is also being studied in the treatment of nerve pain caused by chemotherapy. Ketamine hydrochloride blocks pathways to the brain that are involved in sensing pain. It is a type of general anesthetic. Also called Ketalar and ketamine.
listen (KEE-toh-KAH-nuh-zole) A drug that treats infection caused by a fungus. It is also used as a treatment for prostate cancer because it can block the production of male sex hormones.
listen (KEE-toh-JEH-nik DY-et) A diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates (sugars) that causes the body to break down fat into molecules called ketones. Ketones circulate in the blood and become the main source of energy for many cells in the body. A ketogenic diet is used to treat some types of epilepsy and is being studied in the treatment of some types of cancer.
listen (KEE-tone) A type of chemical substance used in perfumes, paints, solvents, and found in essential oils (scented liquid taken from plants). Ketones are also made by the body when there is not enough insulin.
listen (KEE-tor-OH-lak) A drug that belongs to a family of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. It is being studied in cancer prevention.
keyhole limpet hemocyanin
listen (KEE-hole LIM-pet HEE-moh-SY-uh-nin) A substance taken from a marine organism that may be linked to a specific antigen to boost the immune response to that antigen. Keyhole limpet hemocyanin is being studied as a way to increase the immune response to cancer vaccines. It is a type of immune modulator. Also called KLH.
listen (kee-TROO-duh) A drug used to treat certain types of non-small cell lung cancer that have spread to other parts of the body. It is used in patients whose cancer has a certain protein and whose disease got worse during or after treatment with anticancer drugs that included platinum. Keytruda is also used to treat melanoma that cannot be removed by surgery or has spread to other parts of the body. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Keytruda binds to a receptor for a substance called PD-1, which is found on T cells (a type of white blood cell). Keytruda may block PD-1 and help the immune system kill cancer cells. It is a type of monoclonal antibody and a type of immune checkpoint inhibitor. Also called pembrolizumab.
A natural substance that stimulates the growth of epithelial cells in the skin and in the lining of the mouth, stomach, and intestines. A form of KGF made in the laboratory is called recombinant human keratinocyte growth factor. Also called keratinocyte growth factor.
listen (KID-nee) One of a pair of organs in the abdomen. The kidneys remove waste and extra water from the blood (as urine) and help keep chemicals (such as sodium, potassium, and calcium) balanced in the body. The kidneys also make hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells.
listen (KID-nee KAN-ser) Cancer that forms in tissues of the kidneys. The most common type of kidney cancer in adults is renal cell carcinoma. It forms in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney that filter the blood and remove waste products. Transitional cell cancer of the renal pelvis is kidney cancer that forms in the center of the kidney where urine collects. Wilms tumor is a type of kidney cancer that usually develops in children under the age of 5.
listen (KID-nee FAYL-yer) A condition in which the kidneys stop working and are not able to remove waste and extra water from the blood or keep body chemicals in balance. Acute or severe kidney failure happens suddenly (for example, after an injury) and may be treated and cured. Chronic kidney failure develops over many years, may be caused by conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, and cannot be cured. Chronic kidney failure may lead to total and long-lasting kidney failure, called end-stage renal disease (ESRD). A person in ESRD needs dialysis (the process of cleaning the blood by passing it through a membrane or filter) or a kidney transplant. Also called renal failure.
listen (KID-nee FUNK-shun) A term used to describe how well the kidneys work. The kidneys remove waste and extra water from the blood (as urine) and help keep chemicals (such as sodium, potassium, and calcium) balanced in the body. They also make hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells. Also called renal function.
kidney function test
listen (KID-nee FUNK-shun ...) A test in which blood or urine samples are checked for the amounts of certain substances released by the kidneys. A higher- or lower-than-normal amount of a substance can be a sign that the kidneys are not working the way they should. Also called renal function test.
killer T cell
listen (KIH-ler ... sel) A type of immune cell that can kill certain cells, including foreign cells, cancer cells, and cells infected with a virus. Killer T cells can be separated from other blood cells, grown in the laboratory, and then given to a patient to kill cancer cells. A killer T cell is a type of white blood cell and a type of lymphocyte. Also called cytotoxic T cell and cytotoxic T lymphocyte.
listen (KIH-nuh-ret) A substance that is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and is being studied in the treatment of cancer. Kinaret blocks the action of interleukin 1 (IL-1). It is a type of interleukin receptor antagonist. Also called anakinra.
listen (KY-nays) A type of enzyme (a protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body) that adds chemicals called phosphates to other molecules, such as sugars or proteins. This may cause other molecules in the cell to become either active or inactive. Kinases are a part of many cell processes. Some cancer treatments target certain kinases that are linked to cancer.
listen (KY-nays in-HIH-bih-ter) A substance that blocks a type of enzyme called a kinase. Human cells have many different kinases, and they help control important functions, such as cell signaling, metabolism, division, and survival. Certain kinases are more active in some types of cancer cells and blocking them may help keep the cancer cells from growing. Kinase inhibitors may also block the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow. Some kinase inhibitors are used to treat cancer.
listen (... LIH-gund) A substance that causes blood stem cells (cells from which other types of cells develop) to change into different types of blood cells and increases the number and actions of these cells in the blood. Kit ligand is a type of cytokine and a type of growth factor. Also called SCF and stem cell factor.
listen (KLAT-skin TOO-mer) Cancer that develops in cells that line the bile ducts in the liver, where the right and left ducts meet. It is a type of cholangiocarcinoma.
listen (KLEB-see-EH-luh) A bacterium that frequently causes lung, urinary tract, intestinal, and wound infections.