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Glossary Links


A - A - A


A cancer originating in glandular tissue. Prostate cancer is most commonly classified as adenocarcinoma of the prostate.

An additional treatment which follows the definitive (curative) treatment which is used to increase the effectiveness of the primary therapy. For example, radiation therapy and hormonal therapy are often used as adjuvant treatments following a radical prostatectomy.

A step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end, especially by a computer.

A synthetic version of a drug or one of the body’s chemicals.

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT)
A therapy designed to inhibit the body’s production of androgens.

Androgen-dependent cells
Prostate cancer cells which are nourished by male hormones and therefore are capable of being destroyed by hormone deprivation (also known as androgen-sensitive cells).

Androgen-independent cells
Prostate cancer cells which are not dependent on male hormones and therefore do not respond to hormonal therapy (also known as androgen-insensitive cells).

The body’s formation of new blood vessels. Some anti-cancer drugs work by blocking angiogenesis, thus preventing blood from reaching and nourishing a tumor.

The male hormones, such as testosterone.

A drug that produces general or local loss of physical sensations, particularly pain. For example, a “spinal” is the injection of a local anesthetic into the area surrounding the spinal column.

Any substances which delay the process of oxidation.

Drugs such as flutamide, that can block or neutralize the effects of testosterone and DHT on prostate cancer cells (by preventing testosterone and DHT from binding to the androgen receptor).

A protein produced by the body that counteracts the toxic affects of a foreign substance, organism, or disease within the body.

The normal molecular mechanism which governs the life span of cells so that they die in a very organized way. Cancerous cells are resistant to normal apoptosis.

A medication prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), but which also has anti-neoplastic activity.

B - B - B     (to Glossary Links)


A non-cancerous condition. See Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy.

Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) or benign prostatic hyperplasia
A non-cancerous condition of the prostate that results in a growth of tumorous tissue and increase in the size of the prostate gland.

A procedure involving the removal of tissue from the body of a patient. Removed tissue is typically examined microscopically by a pathologist in order to make a precise diagnosis of the patient’s condition.

Bone scan
Diagnostic image of the skeleton, used for detecting the spread of cancer.

See benign prostatic hypertrophy.

Brachytherapy (see implantation)
A form of radiation therapy in which radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate to deliver radiation directly to the tumor.

C - C - C     (to Glossary Links)


A cellular malignancy typically forming tumors. Unlike benign tumors, these tend to invade surrounding tissues and spread to distant sites of the body.

A malignant tumor made up chiefly of epithelial cells, or those that form the lining of an organ or cavity. See adenocarcinoma.

Castrate Range
The level of the body’s testosterone after orchiectomy (removal of both testicles). This is the range or level, which is used by physicians as a point of comparison for those drugs, which attempt to decrease the testosterone level.

CAT Scan
See computed tomography.

Abbreviation for centigray; a unit of radiation equivalent to the older unit called a “rad.”

The treatment of cancer using chemicals that deter the growth of cancer cells.

Combination Therapy
A form of hormonal therapy that surgically or chemically blocks the production of testosterone by the testes, and involves the additional use of an antiandrogen to block the receptor sites from utilizing testosterone produced by the adrenal glands.

Computerized Tomography
Computer generated cross-sectional images of a portion of the body. Also called CT or CAT scan.

Conformal Radiation
A treatment utilizing external radiation and conforming precisely to the size and shape of the prostate, with the use of computerized planning and state-of-the-art imaging techniques.

The freezing of tissue with the use of liquid nitrogen probes. When used to treat prostate cancer, the cryoprobes are guided by transrectal ultrasound.

CT scan
See computed tomography

Any of a class of immunoregulatory substances that are secreted by cells of the immune system.

D - D - D     (to Glossary Links)

DHT (dihydrotestosterone)
The active form of the male hormone, testosterone, produced after testosterone is transformed by an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase.

Evaluation of a patient’s symptoms and/or test results, with the intent of identifying and verifying the existence of any underlying disease or abnormal condition.

Digital rectal examination (DRE)
A procedure in which the physician inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to examine the prostate gland for signs of cancer.

Doppler Ultrasound Technique
A machine that sends out ultrasonic waves that pick up the velocity of blood flow through the veins and are transmitted as sound to make an image.

E - E - E     (to Glossary Links)

A term referring to the ductless glands, such as the pituitary and the testes, which make an internal secretion or hormone which passes into the bloodstream and has an important influence on metabolic processes.

Ejaculatory Ducts
The tubular passages through which semen reaches the prostatic urethra during orgasm.

Epidural Anesthesia
A painkilling method involving the injection of an anesthetic into the base of the spine, temporarily deadening the nerves running to the lower half of the body.

Erectile Dysfunction
Also known as “E.D.,” the loss of the ability to produce and/or sustain an erection (while desire for sex remains unchanged).

Female hormones that block the luteinizing hormone (LH) and can inhibit testosterone production to the castrate range.

Extracapsular Extension
Used to describe prostate cancer, which has spread into the tissue outside the prostate capsule.

F - F - F     (to Glossary Links)

The generic name of Eulexin, an anti-androgen used in hormonal therapy.

Foley Catheter
A catheter inserted in the penis and threaded through the urethra to the bladder where it is held in place with a tiny, inflated balloon. It removes urine from the bladder and can be used to irrigate the urethra and prevent blood clots.

Frozen Section
A technique in which removed tissue is frozen, cut into very thin slices and stained for microscopic examination. A pathologist can rapidly complete a frozen section analysis, and for this reason, it is commonly used during surgery to quickly provide the surgeon with vital information.

G - G - G     (to Glossary Links)

Gene Therapy
The insertion of normal or genetically altered genes into cells, usually to replace defective cells.

An aggregation of cells that secretes a substance for use in or discharge from the body.

Gleason Score
A widely used method for classifying the cellular differentiation of cancerous tissue. The less the cancerous cells appear like normal cells, the more malignant the cancer. Two grades of 1-5, identifying the two most common degrees of differentiation present in the examined tissue sample, are added together to produce the Gleason score.

Any of a number of simple proteins that occur widely in plant and animal tissues.

Gray (Gy)
Unit of absorbed radiation dose.

H - H - H     (to Glossary Links)

The time it takes for a radioactive isotope to deliver half of its original energy.

Holistic Medicine
Medical care, which considers the patient as a whole, including his physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and economic needs.

Hormonal Therapy
Treatment that attempts to shut down the production of hormones that nourish prostate cancer cells (also known as hormone therapy, hormone ablation therapy, hormone deprivation therapy, anti-androgen therapy and anti-hormonal therapy). Because prostate cancer is usually dependent on male hormones to grow, hormonal therapy can be an effective means of alleviating symptoms and retarding the development of the disease.

Hot Flash
A side effect of some forms of hormonal therapy, experienced as a sudden rush of warmth to the face, neck, and upper body.

I - I - I     (to Glossary Links)

The procedure by which radioactive seeds are inserted into the prostate gland. See also brachytherapy.

See Erectile Dysfunction

A loss of urinary control. There are various kinds and degrees of incontinence. Overflow incontinence is a condition in which the bladder retains urine after voiding. As a consequence, the bladder remains full most of the time, resulting in involuntary seepage of urine from the bladder. Stress incontinence is the involuntary discharge of urine when there is increased pressure upon the bladder, as in coughing or straining to lift heavy objects. Total incontinence is the failure of ability to voluntarily exercise control over the sphincters of the bladder neck and urethra, resulting in total loss of retentive ability.

Redness or swelling caused by injury or infection.

Describes a drug or procedure allowed by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for use in clinical trials. Insurance companies tend to deny coverage to procedures, which are described as investigational.

L - L - L    (to Glossary Links)

LH (luteinizing hormone)
A chemical signal originating in the pituitary gland that causes the testes to make testosterone.

LHRH (luteinizing hormone releasing hormone)
A chemical signal originating in the hypothalamus that causes the pituitary to make LH.

LHRH Analogs (LHRH Agonists)
Synthetic versions of the body’s chemical LHRH that can inhibit pituitary production of the hormone LH. Two LHRH analogs available in the U.S. are commercially named Lupron and Zoladex.

Localized Prostate Cancer
Cancer that is confined to the prostate gland, and therefore considered curable.

See LHRH analogs

Lymph Node
A small bean-shaped mass of tissue along the vessels of the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes filter out bacteria and other toxins, as well as cancer cells.

The surgical removal and examination of lymph nodes to precisely diagnose and stage cancer.

M - M - M     (to Glossary Links)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A painless, non-invasive technique using strong magnetic fields to produce detailed images of internal body structures. An MRI scan usually takes about 45 minutes.

Having the invasive and metastatic properties of cancer. Tending to become progressively worse.

Metalloprotease Inhibitors
Drugs used to suppress the body’s production of certain enzymes.

The spread of cancer, by way of the blood stream or lymphatic system, beyond the boundaries of the organ or structure where the cancer originated. (Metastases is plural.)

Metastatic Work-up
A group of tests including bone scans, x-rays and blood tests, to ascertain whether cancer has spread throughout the body, or metastasized.

Unhealthy consequences and complications resulting from treatment.

See Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

N - N - N     (to Glossary Links)


The lowest point. Doctors sometimes use this as a verb to describe return of cancer or treatment failure.

Neurovascular Bundles
Strands of interwoven nerves and veins that run down the side of the prostate. The bundles contain microscopic nerves that are essential for erection; they also contain arteries and veins. Cutting the nerves in the bundles during surgery, or otherwise harming them in another procedure, usually renders the patient impotent.

O - O - O     (to Glossary Links)


The branch of medical science dealing with tumors. An oncologist is a specialist in the study of cancerous tumors.

A surgical form of hormonal therapy that involves the removal of all or part of the testes, thus shutting down the production of testicular testosterone (also known as surgical castration).

P - P - P     (to Glossary Links)

Palladium 103 (Pd-103)
A radioactive isotope used in brachytherapy.

Capable of being examined by touch or manipulation.

See Prostatic Acid Phosphate

A doctor who specializes in the examination of cells and tissues removed from the body.

Perineural Invasion
Describing cancer, which has spread from the prostate to the nerve bundles.

The area of the body between the anus and the scrotum. A perineal procedure uses this area as the point of entry into the body.

A sugar pill often taken by participants in a medical study. Patients taking a placebo are compared to patients taking actual medications.

See Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia.

Inflammation of the rectum.

The forecast of the course of a disease, and future prospects of the patient.

A change in the status of the cancer indicating the condition has progressed and worsened.

Used to describe substances, which aid oxidation.

A medication prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) but which also has anti-neoplastic activity as well as preventative effects.

Prostascint? Scan
A new method to determine whether or not cancer has spread to distant sites by using monoclonal antibodies. This is especially helpful with patients who have been on hormonal therapy.

A gland which surrounds the neck of the bladder and the urethra in the male. The prostate secretes a thin, opalescent, slightly alkaline fluid which forms part of the semen.

Prostate Capsule
The outer membranous covering of the prostate gland.

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)
A blood test that measures a substance manufactured solely by prostate gland cells. An elevated reading indicates an abnormal condition of the prostate gland, either benign or malignant. It is presently the most sensitive tumor marker for the identification and monitoring of prostate cancer.

Prostatic Acid Phosphatase (PAP)
An enzyme produced by the prostate that is elevated in many patients when prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate. The PAP blood test has largely been replaced by the PSA test.

Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PIN)
A proliferative lesion composed of prostatic epithelial cells that are dividing more rapidly than normal epithelium. Although the cells have not yet become cancerous, PIN is believed to be the most likely precursor of prostate cancer. For example, up to 80% of patients who are identified to have PIN from a biopsy progress to cancer.

See prostate specific antigen.

R - R - R     (to Glossary Links)

Radiation Therapy
Use of high energy rays to kill cancer cells.

Radical Prostatectomy
An operation to remove the entire prostate gland and seminal vesicles.

Capable of emitting radiant energy.

Return of the cancer following remission or treatment intended as curative. Local recurrence indicates a return of the cancer at the site of origin. Distant recurrence indicates the appearance of one or more metastases of the disease.

No longer responsive to a certain therapy.

The surgical removal of a part of an organ or structure.

S - S - S     (to Glossary Links)

“Salvage” Treatment
A medical tern for “Plan B.” It means a patient must undergo another form of treatment because the first therapy was not successful. Salvage therapy does not always work and often has a greater degree of complications.

Saw Palmetto
A nutrient extracted from the saw palmetto shrub, which is considered by some to aid the body’s immune system.

Radioactive, pencil-lead sized pellets used in brachytherapy. For example, Palladium-103 + Iodine-I25 are commonly used for the treatment of prostate cancer.

A no-metallic element thought to be beneficial as a nutrient; it is often included in multivitamin supplements.

Seminal Vesicles
Glands that, like the prostate, support male reproduction. Fluid secreted by these glands regulates the consistency of semen.

The process of designing the radiation beam (or beamlets with IMRT) configuration, simulating the actual treatments. The optimal design of the beams (beamlets) is arrived at jointly by the radiation oncologist and a medical physicist.

A circular muscle which contracts to close an orifice. The urethral sphincter squeezes the urethra shut, providing urinary control.

The testing process by which the extent and severity of a known cancer is evaluated according to an established system of classification. It is used to help determine appropriate therapy.

T - T - T     (to Glossary Links)

The needle guide template used during brachytherapy to guide the brachytherapy needles into the prostate. Radioactive seeds are then inserted through the hollow needles.

The male hormone, or androgen, that is responsible for sex drive and fertility. It also nourishes androgen-dependent prostate cancer cells.

Total Androgen Blockage
A combined form of hormonal therapy that tries to achieve a complete shutdown of the body’s testosterone production.

Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP)
A surgical procedure to remove tissue obstructing the urethra. The technique involves the insertion of an instrument called a resectoscope in the penile urethra, and is intended to relieve obstruction of urine flow due to enlargement of the prostate.

An excessive growth of cells caused by uncontrolled and disorderly cell replacement.

See Transurethral Resection of the Prostate

U - U - U     (to Glossary Links)

A painless, non-invasive diagnostic imaging technique using sound waves to create an echo pattern that reveals the structure of organs and tissues. It does not use x-rays.

The tube that carries urine from the bladder and semen from the prostate out of the body through the penis.

A physician who specializes in the diagnosis and in the medical and surgical treatment of problems in the urinary and male reproductive systems.

Z - Z - Z     (to Glossary Links)

See LHRH analogs