Glossary

P-32
A radioactive form of the element phosphorus used in the treatment of cancer.
p-glycoprotein
A protein that pumps substances out of cells. Cancer cells that have too much p-glycoprotein may not be killed by anticancer drugs.
p-value
A term in statistics. It helps show whether a difference found between groups that are being compared is due to chance. A small p-value usually means that the difference between groups is not due to chance alone, but is due to some other factor, such as a treatment one of the groups received. A large p-value usually means that the difference between groups is probably due to chance alone.
P30 Cancer Center Support Grant
Funds awarded to certain U.S. institutions by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for them to become cancer centers in the United States, based on scientific merit. The funds help the cancer centers improve the way they are run and develop new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. To receive the award, one goal of the cancer center must be to turn clinical and basic research into better health care. Also called CCSG.
p53 gene
A tumor suppressor gene that normally inhibits the growth of tumors. This gene is altered in many types of cancer.
PA
A health professional who is licensed to do certain medical procedures under the guidance of a doctor. A PA may take medical histories, do physical exams, take blood and urine samples, care for wounds, and give injections and immunizations. Also called physician assistant.
PABA
A nutrient in the vitamin B complex that the body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. Bacteria that live in the intestines need PABA to survive. PABA is found in grains and foods from animals. It is being studied as a radiosensitizer (a substance that makes tumor cells more sensitive to radiation therapy) and in the treatment of certain skin disorders. Also called aminobenzoic acid and para-aminobenzoic acid.
pacemaker
An electronic device that is implanted in the body to monitor heart rate and rhythm. It gives the heart electrical stimulation when it does not beat normally. It runs on batteries and has long, thin wires that connect it to the heart. Also called artificial pacemaker and cardiac pacemaker.
Pacific valerian
A plant whose roots are used as a sedative and to treat certain medical conditions. It is being studied as a way to improve sleep in cancer patients undergoing treatment. Also called garden heliotrope, garden valerian, Indian valerian, Mexican valerian, valerian, Valeriana officinalis, and Valerianae radix.
pack year
A way to measure the amount a person has smoked over a long period of time. It is calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years the person has smoked. For example, 1 pack year is equal to smoking 1 pack per day for 1 year, or 2 packs per day for half a year, and so on.
paclitaxel
A drug used to treat breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma. It is also used together with another drug to treat non-small cell lung cancer. Paclitaxel is also being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. It blocks cell growth by stopping cell division and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of antimitotic agent. Also called Taxol.
paclitaxel albumin-stabilized nanoparticle formulation
A drug used to treat breast cancer that has come back or spread to other parts of the body. It is also used with carboplatin to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer in patients who are not able to have surgery or radiation therapy. It is also used with gemcitabine hydrochloride to treat pancreatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. It is being studied in the treatment of other types of cancer. Paclitaxel albumin-stabilized nanoparticle formulation is a form of the anticancer drug paclitaxel and may cause fewer side effects than paclitaxel. It stops cancer cells from growing and dividing, and may kill them. It is a type of mitotic inhibitor and a type of antimicrotubule agent. Also called ABI-007, Abraxane, nanoparticle paclitaxel, and protein-bound paclitaxel.
paclitaxel liposome
A form of the anticancer drug paclitaxel that is contained in very tiny, fat-like particles. It may have fewer side effects and work better than paclitaxel. It is being studied in the treatment of several types of cancer. Paclitaxel liposome blocks the ability of cells to divide and may kill cancer cells. It is a type of mitotic inhibitor and a type of antimicrotubule agent. Also called LEP-ETU, liposomal paclitaxel, LipoTaxen, and PNU-93914.
paclitaxel poliglumex
A form of the anticancer drug paclitaxel combined with a protein called poliglumex that may have fewer side effects and work better than paclitaxel. It is being studied in the treatment of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and other types of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors. Also called CT-2103, paclitaxel polyglutamate, and Xyotax.
paclitaxel polyglutamate
A form of the anticancer drug paclitaxel combined with a protein called poliglumex that may have fewer side effects and work better than paclitaxel. It is being studied in the treatment of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and other types of cancer. It belongs to the family of drugs called mitotic inhibitors. Also called CT-2103, paclitaxel poliglumex, and Xyotax.
paclitaxel-loaded polymeric micelle
A form of the anticancer drug paclitaxel used to treat breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma. It is also used with another drug to treat non-small cell lung cancer. Paclitaxel is mixed with very tiny particles of a substance that makes it easier to dissolve in water. This allows higher doses of paclitaxel to be given. It is a type of antimitotic agent.
Paget disease of bone
A chronic condition in which both the breakdown and regrowth of bone are increased. Paget disease of bone occurs most frequently in the pelvic and leg bones, skull, and lower spine. It is most common in older individuals, and may lead to bone pain, deformities, and fractures. Also called osteitis deformans.
Paget disease of the nipple
A condition in which abnormal cells are found in the nipple. Symptoms commonly include itching and burning and an eczema-like condition around the nipple. There may also be oozing or bleeding from the nipple.
PAH
A type of chemical formed when coal, oil, gas, garbage, tobacco, meat, and other substances are burned. These chemicals are also made for use in many products, including coal tar, creosote, roofing tar, pesticides, mothballs, dandruff shampoos, and some medicines. Being exposed to one of these chemicals over a long time may cause cancer. Also called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon.
pain threshold
The point at which a person becomes aware of pain.
PALA
A substance that is being studied for its ability to increase the effectiveness of the anticancer drug fluorouracil.
palate
The roof of the mouth. The front portion is bony (hard palate), and the back portion is muscular (soft palate).
palatine uvula
The soft flap of tissue that hangs down at the back of the mouth (at the edge of the soft palate). Also called uvula.
palifermin
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. Palifermin 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. Palifermin is a type of recombinant human keratinocyte growth factor. Also called Kepivance.
palliation
Relief of symptoms and suffering caused by cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Palliation helps a patient feel more comfortable and improves the quality of life, but does not cure the disease.
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