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Glossary of Prostate Cancer Terminology

Active surveillance - Treatment approach where tests, such as PSA and a DRE, are checked and prostate biopsies are done on a regular basis.

Advanced Prostate Cancer - Cancer that is not cured or not curable by treatments of the prostate area alone. Includes locally advanced prostate cancer and metastatic prostate cancer.

Aggressiveness - Rapid tumor spread within the prostate and outside the prostate.

Anesthetic - A substance (drug or gas) which produces a local or general loss of feeling, including pain.

Benign - A tumor that will not spread to other parts of the body.

Biopsy - Procedure to take out small bits of prostate tissue (cores) for testing.

Bladder - The balloon-shaped pouch of thin, flexible muscle in which urine is temporarily stored before being discharged through the urethra.

Brachytherapy - Treatment for prostate cancer that involves the placement of tiny radioactive pellets into the prostate by utilizing ultrasound.

Castrate-resistant prostate cancer - the stage of the disease where cancer continues to grow despite efforts (medical or surgical) to drop the testosterone to very low levels.

Catheter - A thin tube that is inserted through the urethra into the bladder to allow urine to drain.

Complications - A problem that occurs because of a treatment.

Crohn's disease - A disease of the bowel that causes pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhea and weight loss.

Cryotherapy - During an operation, probes are placed in the prostate. The probes are frozen thus killing the prostate cells.

Digital rectal exam - (also known as DRE) Insertion of a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate and check for any abnormalities.

Ejaculation - Release of semen from the penis during sexual climax (orgasm).

Erectile dysfunction - (also known as ED or impotence) The inability to get or maintain an erection for satisfactory sexual intercourse.

External beam radiation therapy - A method for delivering a beam of high-energy X-rays to the location of the patient's prostate tumor. The beam is generated outside the patient and is targeted at the tumor site. These X-rays can destroy the cancer cells and careful treatment planning allows the surrounding normal tissues to be spared. No radioactive sources are placed inside the patient's body.

Hormonal therapy - Treatments that add, block or remove hormones.

Incontinence - Loss of bladder or bowel control; the accidental loss of urine or feces.
Interstitial prostate brachytherapy - Radiotherapy in which the source of irradiation is placed in the prostate.

Irritative urinary symptoms - Symptoms that result in a limited capacity to store urine in the bladder. Symptoms include frequent and urgent urination.

Life expectancy - Measure of time, usually in years or months that estimates how long a person will live.

Localized prostate cancer - Cancer that has not moved outside of the prostate.

Locally advanced stage prostate cancer - cancer that has grown through the outer wall of the prostate gland and into neighboring tissue, and has returned after attempts at local treatment.This type of cancer has not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Lymph nodes - Small rounded masses of tissue distributed along the lymphatic system most prominently in the armpit, neck and groin areas. Lymph nodes produce special cells that help fight off foreign agents invading the body. Lymph nodes also act as traps for infectious agents.

Malignant - A cancerous growth that is likely to grow and spread which can cause serious disablement or death.

Metastasis - The spread of cancer from the first place that the cancer grew to another part of the body.

Metastatic prostate cancer - cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body, particularly the bones or lymph nodes.

Pathologist - A doctor trained to study body tissues and to diagnose conditions.

Prostate - In men, a walnut-shaped gland that goes around the urethra at the neck of the urinary bladder. The prostate supplies fluid that goes into semen.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) - Also referred to as prostate-specific antigen. A protein made only by the prostate gland. High levels of PSA in the blood may be a sign of prostate cancer.

Radiation therapy - The treatment of disease (especially cancer) by exposure to a radioactive substance. High-energy rays are often used to damage cancer cells and stop them from growing and dividing. Includes interstitial prostate brachytherapy and external beam radiation therapy.

Radical prostatectomy - Surgical procedure for the removal of the prostate.

Rectum - The lower part of the large intestine, ending in the anal opening.

Screening tests - To identify a disease early to improve the chance for cure and/or to prevent complications from the disease.

Semen - Also known as seminal fluid or ejaculate fluid. Thick, whitish fluid produced by glands of the male reproductive system that carries the sperm (reproductive cells) through the penis during ejaculation.

Seminal vesicles - An internal structure in the male located behind the bladder and above the prostate gland. It contributes fluid to semen.

Sperm - Male reproductive cells made in the testicles.

Testicles - Paired, egg-shaped glands located in a pouch (scrotum) below the penis. They produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone.

Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) - A special ultrasound test in which sound waves are produced by a probe inserted into the rectum. In men, the structures most commonly examined with this test are the prostate, bladder, seminal vesicles and ejaculatory ducts.

Ulcerative colitis - A disease that causes ulcers in the bowel and has symptoms of pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhea and weight loss.

Ultrasound - A tool that makes images by using sound waves to picture internal structures.

Urethra - In males, this narrow tube carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body and also serves as the channel through which semen is ejaculated. Extends from the bladder to the tip of the penis.

Urinary incontinence - Accidental loss of urine.