glossary

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This cancer definition glossary is adapted from the National Cancer Institute online glossary.


K

Kahler 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 sarcoma (kuh-POH-zee sar-KOH-muh)
A type of cancer characterized by the abnormal growth of blood vessels that develop into skin lesions or occur internally.

Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (kuh-POH-zee sar-KOH-muh-uh-SOH-see-ay-ted HER-peez-VY-rus)
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 KSHV, human herpesvirus 8, and HHV8.

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.

kava kava (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.

keloid (KEY-loyd)
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 (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.

Keppra (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.

keratan sulfate
A glycosaminoglycan (a type of polysaccharide) found in cartilage and in the cornea of the eye.

keratinocyte growth factor (keh-RAT-ih-noh-site grohth FAK-tur)
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 (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.

ketoconazole (kee-ta-KOE-na-zol)
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 (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.

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 (KID-nee)
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 (KID-nee KAN-ser)
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 (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.

kidney function test (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 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 bacterium 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 syndrome (KLINE-fel-ter SIN-drome)
A genetic disorder in males caused by having one or more extra X chromosomes. 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 syndrome increases the risk of developing extragonadal germ cell tumors and breast cancer.

Korean acupuncture (...AK-yoo-PUNK-cher)
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 being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a type of mitotic inhibitor and epothilone. Also called epothilone D.

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 Karnofsky Performance Status.

kretek
A cigarette made of a mixture of tobacco and clove.

KRN5500
An anticancer drug that is a type of antitumor antibiotic. It is an anthracycline.

KRN7000
A drug being studied in the treatment of cancer. It is a biological response modifier that is a type of glycosphingolipid or agelasphin.

Krukenberg tumor (KROO-ken-berg TOO-mer)
A tumor in the ovary caused by the spread of stomach cancer.

KSHV
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 Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, human herpesvirus 8, and HHV8.

KW2189
A semisynthetic anticancer drug that is a type of antitumor antibiotic.

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cholangiocarcinoma, or bile-duct (bile duct) cancer, arises from the tissues in the bile duct.