Glossary

K-ras gene
A gene that may cause cancer when it is mutated (changed). The K-ras gene makes the KRAS protein, which is involved in cell signaling pathways, cell growth, and apoptosis (cell death). Agents that block the activity of the mutated K-ras gene or its protein may stop the growth of cancer. Also called Kras gene.
Kadcyla
A drug used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. It is used in patients who have already been treated with the anticancer drug called trastuzumab and a type of drug called a taxane. It may also be used in patients whose cancer has recurred (come back) after adjuvant therapy with these drugs. It is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Kadcyla contains a monoclonal antibody called trastuzumab that binds to a protein called HER2, which is found on some breast cancer cells. It also contains an anticancer drug called DM1, which may help kill cancer cells. Kadcyla is a type of antibody-drug conjugate. Also called ado-trastuzumab emtansine and T-DM1.
Kahler disease
A type of cancer that begins in plasma cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies). Also called multiple myeloma, myelomatosis, and plasma cell myeloma.
Kaletra
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.
Kaposi sarcoma
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
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.
karenitecin
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
A standard way of measuring the ability of cancer patients to perform ordinary tasks. The Karnofsky Performance scores range from 0 to 100. A higher score means the patient is better able to carry out daily activities. KPS may be used to determine a patient's prognosis, to measure changes in a patient’s ability to function, or to decide if a patient could be included in a clinical trial. Also called KPS.
Kassebaum Kennedy Act
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 person’s health information and to keep it from being misused. Also called Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and HIPAA.
kava kava
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.
keloid
A thick, irregular scar caused by excessive tissue growth at the site of an incision or wound.
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.
Kemstro
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.
Kepivance
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.
Keppra
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.
keratan sulfate
A glycosaminoglycan (a type of polysaccharide) found in cartilage and in the cornea of the eye.
keratin
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
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.
keratoacanthoma
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.
Ketalar
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.
ketamine
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.
ketamine hydrochloride
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.
ketoconazole
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.
ketone
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.
ketorolac
A drug that belongs to a family of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. It is being studied in cancer prevention.
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