Palliative treatment: Treatment that relieves pain and symptoms of a disease but does not cure it.
Pap (Papanicolaou) smear: A test to detect cancer
of the cervix, done during a pelvic examination.
It is recommended that all women have a yearly Pap test.
Paracentesis: Removal of fluid from the abdomen using local anesthesia, using a needle and syringe.
Pathological fracture: A break in a bone usually caused by cancer or another disease condition.
Pathology: The study of disease by examining tissues and body fluids. A doctor who specializes in pathology is called a pathologist. The pathologist examines biopsy specimens and determines if cancer cells are present.
Petechiae: Tiny areas of bleeding under the skin, usually due to low platelet count.
Phlebitis: Painful swelling of a vein.
Photosensitivity: Extreme sensitivity to the sun, which leaves a person prone to sunburn. Some antibiotics and cancer drugs cause this side effect.
Plasma: The fluid portion of blood in which blood components are suspended.
Platelet (pIt): Small cells in the blood that are responsible for clotting.
Platelet count: The number of platelets in a blood sample.
Pneumonectomy: Surgical removal of a lung or part of a lung.
Polyp: An overgrowth of tissue protruding into a body cavity — for example, a nasal or rectal polyp. These are usually benign but are often surgically removed since they may become cancerous.
Port (infusion): A quarter-sized disc that is surgically placed just below the skin of the chest or abdomen. A tube is inserted into the port so fluids, drugs or blood products can be infused through a needle directly into the bloodstream.
Primary tumour: The original cancer, usually named after the area where it started. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the bone is still called breast cancer.
Progesterone: One of the female hormones produced by the ovaries.
Progesterone-receptor assay: A test that determines if breast cancer is stimulated by female hormones.
Prognosis: The predicted outcome of a disease.
Prostate: A gland located at the base of the bladder in males.
Prosthesis: Artificial replacement of a missing body part, such as a leg, breast or eye.
Protocol: A treatment plan that includes the drugs, dosages and dates of cancer therapy.