Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer: Glossary

Here are definitions of medical terms related to to prostate cancer.

Antioxidants: Substances that can neutralize the effects that free radicals may have on the body. Free radicals are formed during the natural course of metabolism and have been linked to various types of tissue damage, including the development of cancer.

Benign: Not cancerous.

BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia): The non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate, fairly common in men over age 50.

Biopsy: A specimen of tissue that is taken to be examined for the presence of cancer.

Carcinogen: A cancer-causing agent

Chemotherapy: Chemical treatments designed to kill cancer cells.

CT scanComputed tomography, which uses rotating x-rays to create a picture of the body from many different angles.

Cryotherapy: Freezing cancer cells to kill them.

Digital rectal examination (DRE): An examination in which a health-care provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into a man’s rectum to feel the prostate.

Estrogen: A female hormone that can be given to a man to counteract the effects of testosterone, a male hormone.

Hormones: A chemical created by the body’s glands and secreted into the blood in order to have an effect on an organ.

Impotence: The inability to have or maintain an erection.

Lymph nodes: Small round or oval bodies connected by a network of vessels; they help remove bacteria and foreign particles from the circulation and play a role in the body’s immune defenses.

Malignant: Cancerous.

Metastasis: The spreading of cancer cells within the body.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): A computerized picture made by magnetic fields that can show cross-sections of the inner body.

Oncologist: A physician who specializes in the treatment of cancer.

Orchiectomy: The surgical removal of the testicles to prevent the production of the hormone testosterone.

Percent-free PSA: A test measuring the percent of PSA that is free in the blood compared to the PSA that is bound to other proteins.

Prostatectomy (radical): The surgical removal of the prostate.

PSA test: Prostate-specific antigen test, a test to measure the level of a protein in the blood produced by the prostate, the amount of which increases if the prostate is cancerous.

PSA velocity: The measure of time and speed of rising PSA numbers.

Radiation therapyThe use of high-powered x-rays to kill cancer cells.

Semen: Fluid made up of sperm cells and fluid produced by the prostate and other sex glands; semen is passed through the urethra to the outside during ejactulation; semen is also called ejaculate.

Testosterone: The male hormone produced by the testicles; it is known to feed the spread of prostate cancer.

Transrectal ultrasound: A device that uses sound waves to get an image of the prostate; it involves inserting a thin ultrasound probe into the rectum.

TURP: Transurethral resection of the prostate; surgery to remove part of the prostate to free the urine flow.

Ultrasound: The use of sound waves to make a computerized picture of body parts and tissue.

Urethra: The tube that drains urine from the bladder and out of the body.

Urinary retention: A condition in which urine cannot pass out of the bladder because the urethra is blocked by an enlarged prostate.

Urologist: A physician who specializes in diseases of the urinary system.

Watchful waiting: A form of treatment in which a condition is monitored closely but no therapy is given; is often used in cases where disease is present but is advancing very slowly.

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