Glossary of Medical Terms

when a prostate cancer is simply watched by the doctor using regular digital rectal examinations and PSA blood tests. 

a small sample of tissue that is taken and examined for the presence of cancer.

the hollow organ that stores urine.

applies radioactive sources directly to or into the tumor, allowing a high dose to the tumor while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue. For the patient, this means shorter treatment periods, fewer side effects and a faster recovery.

a tumor with abnormal cells that grow and divide without control. Cancer cells can spread through the blood and lymph to other parts of the body and pose a serious threat to a persons life.

the basic structural and functional units of the body.

treatment with powerful drugs that attack cancer cells but may also harm certain types of healthy cells.

an examination performed by a physician in which a gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into the rectum to feel the prostate.

a tube-like structure that carries secretions.

radiation therapy that uses rays from a machine directed at parts of the body.

the most commonly used prostate cancer grading system. It involves assigning numbers (called a Gleason grade): to cancerous prostate tissue, ranging from 1 through 5, based on how much the arrangement of the cancer cells mimics the way normal prostate cells form glands. Two grades are assigned to the most common patterns of cells that appear; these two grades (they can be the same or different): are then added together to determine the Gleason score (a number from 1 to 10).

brachytherapy in which the seeds contain more radioactive material than traditional brachytherapy, and the seeds are placed only temporarily.

in prostate cancer, treatment that interferes with the production or activity of male hormones that promote prostate tumor growth.

inability to have an erection.

a form of external beam radiation therapy that uses computed tomography to create a 3-D picture of the prostate and surrounding organs so radiation rays can be delivered only to the prostate gland. IMRT precisely delivers many thin radiation beams to the prostate gland. It allows for a high dose of radiation to be administered to the prostate while minimizing effects on nearby organs.

treatment with high-energy radiation from tiny radioactive seeds inserted into the prostate; see brachytherapy.

a nearly clear fluid collected from tissues around the body and returned to the blood by the lymphatic system. Lymph drains waste from cells.

small bean-shaped structures scattered along the vessels of the lymphatic system. The lymph nodes filter out or remove waste, bacteria, and cancer cells that may travel through the lymphatic system.

a term for a tumor that can threaten a persons life; a tumor that is cancerous. Malignant means cancerous.

the spread of cancer from its primary site to nearby or distant areas through the blood and/or lymph.

a doctor who specializes in treating cancer.

a prediction made as to the potential outcome of a disease.

the surgical removal of the prostate gland.

a blood substance that often increases in cases of prostate cancer and other prostate diseases.

treatment with high-energy rays such as those from X rays or other sources of radiation.

surgical procedure in which the prostate is removed through an incision in the perineum.

surgical removal of the prostate and nearby areas like the seminal vesicles.

the last 5 or 6 inches of the intestine leading to the outside of the body.

the external sac, or pouch, containing the testicles.

the fluid that is ejaculated during sexual climax; it contains the sperm and fluids from other glands, including the prostate.

pouches located above the prostate that store semen.

a term used to describe the size and extent of the spread of cancer.

a male sex hormone produced primarily by the testes. Testosterone stimulates a man`s sexual activity and the growth of other sex organs, including the prostate.

a group of cells organized to perform a specialized function.

using sound waves produced by a device inserted into the rectum to produce a picture of the prostate.

an excessive growth of cells resulting from uncontrolled and disorderly cell replacement. Tumors may be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).

the tube running through the penis to the outside of the body. It carries urine from the bladder and semen from the sex glands.