Glossary of Cancer Terms
Kahler’s disease A type of cancer that begins in plasma cells (white blood cells that produce antibodies). Also called multiple myeloma, myelomatosis or plasma cell myeloma.
Kaposi's sarcoma A type of cancer characterized by the abnormal growth of blood vessels that develop into skin lesions or occur internally.
Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus KSHV. A type of herpes virus that may cause Kaposi's 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 KSHV, human herpesvirus 8 and HHV8.
karenitecin A drug being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to a family of drugs called topoisomerase inhibitors. It is related to the anticancer drug camptothecin.
Karnofsky Performance Status KPS. 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.
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 Laminaria digitata. 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.
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 belongs to the family of drugs called recombinant human keratinocyte growth factors. Also called palifermin.
keratan sulfate A glycosaminoglycan (a type of polysaccharide) found in cartilage and in the cornea of the eye.
keratinocyte growth factor 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 KGF.
keratoacanthoma A benign (noncancerous), rapidly growing skin tumor that usually occurs on sun-exposed areas of the skin and that can go away without treatment.
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 KLH. One of a group of drugs called immune modulators, given as a vaccine to help the body respond to cancer. Also called KLH.
KGF 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 KGF made in the laboratory is called recombinant human keratinocyte growth factor. Also called keratinocyte growth factor.
kidney One of a pair of organs in the abdomen. Kidneys remove waste from the blood (as urine), produce erythropoietin (a substance that stimulates red blood cell production), and play a role in blood pressure regulation.
kidney cancer Cancer that forms in tissues of the kidneys. Kidney cancer includes renal cell carcinoma (cancer that forms in the lining of very small tubes in the kidney that filter the blood and remove waste products) and renal pelvis carcinoma (cancer that forms in the center of the kidney where urine collects). It also includes Wilms’ tumor, which is a type of kidney cancer that usually develops in children under the age of 5.
kidney failure 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.
killer cell A white blood cell that attacks tumor cells and body cells that have been invaded by foreign substances.
kilogram A measure of weight. A kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds.
Kinaret 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.
Klatskin tumor 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.
Klebsiella A bacteria that frequently causes lung, urinary tract, intestinal and wound infections.
KLH Keyhole limpet hemocyanin. One of a group of drugs called immune modulators, given as a vaccine to help the body respond to cancer. Also called keyhole limpet hemocyanin.
Klinefelter's syndrome A genetic disorder in males caused by having an extra X chromosome. Males with this disorder may have larger than normal breasts, a lack of facial and body hair, a rounded body type and small testicles. They may learn to speak much later than other children and may have difficulty learning to read and write. Klinefelter's syndrome increases the risk of developing testicular cancer.
Korean acupuncture A type of acupuncture based on a form of Oriental medicine in which treatment is based on a person’s constitution. According to this type of medicine, the constitution is the specific way a person’s organs affect health and how he or she looks, thinks, behaves, and responds to treatment. Also called constitutional acupuncture.
KOS-862 A substance that is being studied in the treatment of cancer. It belongs to the families of drugs called mitotic inhibitors and epothilones. Also called epothilone D.
KPS 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 Karnofsky Performance Status.
kretek A cigarette made of a mixture of tobacco and clove.
KRN5500 An anticancer drug that belongs to a family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics. It is an anthracycline.
KRN7000 A drug being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a biological response modifier that belongs to the family of drugs called glycosphingolipids or agelasphins.
Krukenberg tumor A tumor in the ovary caused by the spread of stomach cancer.
KSHV Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus. A type of herpes virus that may cause Kaposi's 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 Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, human herpesvirus 8 and HHV8.
KW2189 A semisynthetic anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antitumor antibiotics.