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.
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 characterized by the abnormal growth of blood vessels that develop into skin lesions or occur internally.
Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus
A type of herpesvirus that may cause Kaposi sarcoma (a rare cancer that can cause skin lesions) and a type of lymphoma (cancer that begins in the lymph system), especially in patients who have a weak 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 patientÉ??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 personÉ??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.
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.
keyhole limpet hemocyanin
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.
KGF
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.
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