Glossary: P

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.

pack year (pak yeer)

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,… Read more »

palliation (PA-lee-AY-shun)

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.

palliative care (PA-lee-uh-tiv kayr)

Care given to improve the quality of life of patients who have a serious or life-threatening disease. The goal of palliative care is to prevent or treat as early as possible the symptoms of a disease, side effects caused by treatment of a disease, and psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to a disease or its… Read more »

palliative therapy (PA-lee-uh-tiv THAYR-uh-pee)

Treatment given to relieve the symptoms and reduce the suffering caused by cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Palliative cancer therapies are given together with other cancer treatments, from the time of diagnosis, through treatment, survivorship, recurrent or advanced disease, and at the end of life.

paralytic ileus (PAYR-uh-LIH-tik IH-lee-us)

A condition in which the muscles of the intestines do not allow food to pass through, resulting in a blocked intestine. Paralytic ileus may be caused by surgery, inflammation, and certain drugs.

parenteral nutrition (puh-REN-teh-rul noo-TRIH-shun)

A form of nutrition that is delivered into a vein. Parenteral nutrition does not use the digestive system. It may be given to people who are unable to absorb nutrients through the intestinal tract because of vomiting that won’t stop, severe diarrhea, or intestinal disease. It may also be given to those undergoing high-dose chemotherapy… Read more »