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Glossary - P

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  • Packed cell transfusion

    A transfusion of red blood cells without the serum.

  • Packed marrow

    Bone marrow filled with tumor cells or blasts.

  • Palate

    (PAL-et)

    The roof of the mouth.

  • Palliative treatment

    Treatment that relieves symptoms, such as pain, but is not expected to cure the disease. The main purpose is to improve your quality of life.

  • Palpable

    Able to be touched or felt, such as a palpable tumor.

  • Pancreas

    (PAN-kree-us)

    A large gland lying crosswise in the upper posterior portion of your abdomen. It secretes enzymes (chemicals) into your intestines for the digestion of food and it manufactures insulin which it secretes into your blood stream.

  • Pancreatitis

    (PAN-kree-uh-TY-tis)

    Inflammation of your pancreas.

  • Pancytopenia

    The decrease of all blood cells (red, white, and platelets).

  • Pap test

    A procedure in which a small brush or spatula is used to gently remove cells from the cervix so they can be checked under a microscope for cervical cancer or cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer. A Pap test may also help find other conditions, such as infections or inflammation. It is sometimes done at the same time as a pelvic exam and may also be done at the same time as a test for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Also called Pap smear and Papanicolaou test.

  • Paraganglia

    (PAYR-uh-GANG-glee-uh)

    A collection of cells that came from embryonic nervous tissue, and are found near the adrenal glands and some blood vessels and nerves. Most paraganglia secrete epinephrine and norepinephrine.

  • Parasites

    (PAYR-uh-SITES)

    An animal or plant that gets nutrients by living on or in an organism of another species. A complete parasite gets all of its nutrients from the host organism, but a semi-parasite gets only some of its nutrients from the host.

  • Parathyroid glands

    (PAYR-uh-THY-royd...)

    Four pea-sized glands found on the surface of the thyroid. The parathyroid hormone made by these glands increases the calcium level in the blood.

  • Parotids

    Salivary glands located at the side of your face in front of each ear.

  • Pastoral counselors

    (PAS-tuh-rul KOWN-seh-lers)

    A person who is trained to give spiritual and mental health advice.

  • Pathologist

    puh-THAH-loh-jist

    A doctor who has special training in identifying diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.

  • Pathology

    (puh-THAH-loh-jee ...)

    The branch of medicine involved in making diagnoses from the examination of tissues.

  • Pediatric

    (pee-dee-A-trik)

    Having to do with children.

  • Pediatric polymeric enteral nutrition formula

    (pee-dee-A-trik PAH-lih-MAYR-ik EN-teh-rul noo-TRIH-shun FOR-myoo-luh)

    A nutritional drink that helps children who cannot get everything they need in their diet from foods and other drinks. It may be given through a small tube that is inserted through the nose into the stomach or the small intestine. It may also be given through a tube that is put into the stomach or the intestinal tract through an opening made on the outside of the abdomen. Also called PediaSure.

  • Pediatrician

    (PEE-dee-uh-TRIH-shun)

    A doctor who has special training in preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases and injuries in children. Pediatricians also help manage other problems that affect children, such as developmental disorders and behavioral, emotional, and social problems.

  • Peripheral

    Near the surface; distant. Peripheral nerves are those in your arms and legs; peripheral veins are those generally used for IV's.

  • Pertussis

    (per-TUH-sis)

    A serious bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes that spreads easily. Pertussis begins like a cold, but develops into severe coughing and gasping for air. Long spells of coughing may cause vomiting, and broken blood vessels in the eyes and on the skin. Also called whooping cough.

  • PET Scan

    A procedure in which a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein, and a scanner is used to make detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is taken up. Because cancer cells often take up more glucose than normal cells, the pictures can be used to find cancer cells in the body. Also called positron emission tomography scan.

  • Petechiae

    (peh-TEE-kee-ee)

    Tiny localized hemorrhages from the small blood vessels just beneath the surface of the skin. They are often the result of platelet deficiency and always clear up completely when your platelet count rises.

  • Ph

    A symbol denoting acidity or alkalinity. A solution of pH 7 is neutral; below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. The urine is usually slightly acidic with a pH of 5.3.

  • Phantom limb pain

    (FAN-tum lim payn)

    A pain or sensation that you imagine in a limb which has been amputated.

  • Pharmacology

    (FAR-muh-KAH-loh-jee)

    The study of drugs, their absorption, distribution and excretion throughout the body.

  • Pharyngitis

    Inflammation of the throat; sore throat.

  • Pharynx

    (FAYR-inx)

    Throat.

  • Pheochromocytoma

    FEE-oh-KROH-moh-sy-TOH-muh

    Tumor that forms in the center of the adrenal gland (gland located above the kidney) that causes it to make too much adrenaline. Pheochromocytomas are usually benign (not cancer) but can cause high blood pressure, pounding headaches, heart palpitations, flushing of the face, nausea, and vomiting.

  • Philadelphia chromosome

    FIH-luh-DEL-fee-uh KROH-muh-some

    An abnormality of chromosome 22 in which part of chromosome 9 is transferred to it. Bone marrow cells that contain the Philadelphia chromosome are often found in chronic myelogenous leukemia and sometimes found in acute lymphocytic leukemia.

  • Phlebitis

    (fleh-BY-tis)

    An inflammation of a vein; signs include pain, swelling, and tenderness in an area. If a superficial vein is involved, the phlebitis can be felt as a cord-like thickening along the vein.

  • Physical exam

    (FIH-zih-kul eg-ZAM)

    An exam of the body to check for general signs of disease.

  • Physical therapy

    FIH-zih-kul THAYR-uh-pee

    The use of exercises and physical activities to help condition muscles and restore strength and movement. For example, physical therapy can be used to restore arm and shoulder movement and build back strength after breast cancer surgery.

  • PICC line

    A device used to draw blood and give treatments, including intravenous fluids, drugs, or blood transfusions. A thin, flexible tube is inserted into a vein in the upper arm and guided (threaded) into a large vein above the right side of the heart called the superior vena cava. A needle is inserted into a port outside the body to draw blood or give fluids. A PICC may stay in place for weeks or months and helps avoid the need for repeated needle sticks. Also called peripherally inserted central catheter.

  • Pineal gland

    (PIH-nee-ul ...)

    A tiny organ in the cerebrum that produces melatonin. Also called pineal body and pineal organ.

  • Pituitary gland

    pih-TOO-ih-TAYR-ee...

    A pea-sized organ attached to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It lies at the base of the brain above the back of the nose. The hypothalamus sends signals to the pituitary gland, which then makes hormones that control other glands and many of the body’s functions, including growth and fertility.

  • Plasma

    PLAZ-muh

    The liquid portion of the blood in which blood cells are suspended. It contains many proteins and minerals necessary for normal body functioning.

  • Platelets

    PLAYT-let

    A part of the blood that plugs up holes in blood vessels after an injury. Chemotherapy can cause a drop in the platelet count, a condition called thrombocytopenia that carries a risk of excessive bleeding.

  • Pleural effusion

    (PLOOR-ul eh-FYOO-zhun)

    The presence of fluid in the space between the two layers of the lung lining.

  • Pneumonia

    (noo-MOH-nyuh)

    Infection of the lung.

  • Polys

    The group of white cells that is important to your ability to resist bacterial infection. A ""poly"" count of less than 1,000 indicates less than normal protection and considerable risk of infection.

  • Pons

    ponz

    Part of the central nervous system, located at the base of the brain, between the medulla oblongata and the midbrain. It is part of the brainstem.

  • Port

    port

    A device used to draw blood and give treatments, including intravenous fluids, drugs, or blood transfusions. The port is placed under the skin, usually in the chest. It is attached to a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) that is guided (threaded) into a large vein above the right side of the heart called the superior vena cava. A port may stay in place for many weeks or months. A needle is inserted through the skin into the port to draw blood or give fluids. Also called port-a-cath.

  • Post-op

    After surgery.

  • Potassium

    (puh-TA-see-um)

    An element found normally in your blood; important in heart and muscle function.

  • Pre-op

    Before surgery.

  • Prognosis

    (prog-NO-sis)

    A prediction of the course of disease; the outlook for a cure. A prognosis is based on the average result in many cases, and consequently, may not accurately predict your outcome, since the clinical course can vary greatly from patient to patient.

  • Prolactin

    (proh-LAK-tin)

    A hormone that is made by the pituitary gland (a pea-sized organ in the center of the brain). Prolactin causes a woman’s breasts to make milk during and after pregnancy, and has many other effects in the body.

  • Prophylactic

    (PROH-fih-LAK-tik)

    Treatment designed to prevent a disease or a complication that has not yet become evident.

  • Prosthesis

    (pros-THEE-sis)

    An artificial form to replace a part of your body.

  • Proteasome inhibitor

    (PROH-tee-uh-some in-HIH-bih-ter)

    A drug that blocks the action of proteasomes. A proteasome is a large protein complex that helps destroy other cellular proteins when they are no longer needed. Proteasome inhibitors are being studied in the treatment of cancer.

  • Protocol

    (PROH-tuh-KOL)

    A formal outline or plan, such as a description of what treatments you will receive and exactly when each should be given.

  • Psychologist

    (sy-KAH-loh-jist)

    A specialist who can talk with patients and their families about emotional and personal matters, and can help them make decisions.

  • Puberty

    PYOO-ber-tee

    The time of life when a child experiences physical and hormonal changes that mark a transition into adulthood. The child develops secondary sexual characteristics and becomes able to have children. Secondary sexual characteristics include growth of pubic, armpit, and leg hair; breast enlargement; and increased hip width in girls. In boys, they include growth of pubic, face, chest and armpit hair; voice changes; penis and testicle growth, and increased shoulder width.

  • Pulmonary

    (PUL-muh-NAYR-ee)

    Concerns or affects your lungs.

  • Pulmonary fibrosis

    Thickened tissue in your lungs causing cough, difficulty breathing, and X-ray changes.

  • Pulmonary function test

    (PUL-muh-NAYR-ee FUNK-shun ...)

    Special tests that are designed to evaluate the function of your lungs.

  • Pulse oximeter

    A device that measures the oxygen saturation of arterial blood in a subject by utilizing a sensor attached typically to a finger, toe, or ear to determine the percentage of oxyhemoglobin in blood pulsating through a network of capillaries.