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A-Z Medical Language of the Prostate

A Guide to Medical Language of the Prostate from A to Z © Prostate.net

Click here to view medical terms related to the prostate:

Browse Glossary:

A

Ablation: The removal or elimination of a body part or of its function. Cryoablation, for example, means using freezing temperatures to get rid of prostate cancer cells. Hormonal ablation means eliminating the hormones that nourish a prostate tumor.

Acid phosphatase: An enzyme that is found throughout the body, but mainly in the prostate gland. Elevated levels of acid phosphatase levels can signal that prostate cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The acid phosphatase test has been largely replaced by the PSA test.

Acrylamide: A substance that forms when foods high in carbohydrates and/or an amino acid called asparagines are cooked at high temperatures. Acrylamide can cause neurological damage when they are consumed at high levels.

Active surveillance: An approach to the management of prostate cancer in which the man is monitored closely, but curative treatment is not initiated until the cancer progresses. Also called watchful waiting and following expectantly.

Acute bacterial prostatitis: A form of prostatitis that comes on suddenly and is accompanied by fever, chills, and other symptoms that require prompt treatment. Acute bacterial prostatitis presents as a urinary tract infection and is characterized by an increased number of inflammatory cells in the prostate.

Adrenal androgens: Weak male hormones, including androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and dehy­droepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), plus small amounts of testosterone, produced by the adrenal glands. These androgens make up only 5 percent or less of the total androgen stimulation to the prostate. Their total effect on the prostate is a controversial issue.

Age-specific PSA: An adjustment of the PSA value that accounts for the natural, gradual increase in PSA that occurs with age as the prostate enlarges.

Alpha-1-adrenergic blockers: A class of drugs used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) that work by relaxing smooth muscle tissue within the prostate. They are also called alpha-blockers.

Alpha-1-antichymotrypsin (ACT): The protein that bonds with PSA in bound PSA.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): One of the omega-3 fatty acids, similar to those found in fish oil, except ALA is found in plants. It is highly concentrated in flaxseed, and to a lesser extent in walnut, canola, and perilla oils. ALA can reduce inflammation and may help prevent heart disease and arthritis.

Analgesics: Drugs often referred to as painkillers.

Analog: A synthetic lookalike of a drug or body chemical.

Anal stricture: Tight scar tissue that can interfere with a bowel movement.

Anastomosis: The site where two structures are surgically reconnected after an organ has been removed. After radical prostatectomy, it refers to the con­nection between the reconstructed bladder neck and urethra.

Androgen-dependent, or –sensitive cells: Cells in prostate cancer that are nourished by hormones. These cells can shrink dramatically when the hormones supply is shut off.

Androgen-independent, or –insensitive cells: Cells in prostate cancer that are not nourished by hormones and therefore don’t respond to hormone therapy.

Androgens: Sex hormones, such as testosterone, found in higher levels in males than females.

Angiogenesis: The process of forming new blood vessels. In cancer, angiogenesis allows the disease to thrive and spread. Drugs called angiogenesis inhibitors block this process, cutting of its source of nourishment and starving the cancer. The cancer may not die, but it won’t progress.

Anti-androgens: Drugs such as bicalutamide and flutamide, used to treat prostate cancer. These drugs block the effects of testosterone and DHT on the prostate cell by preventing the hormones from binding to the androgen receptor.

Antibiotics: Drugs administered to kill bacteria that can cause conditions such as urinary tract infections and bacterial prostatitis.

Anticholinergic drugs: A class of drugs whose side effects include hindering urination, which may help some men who have incontinence.

Anticoagulants: Medications that help prevent the blood from clotting.

Anti-metastatic drugs: Drugs that help prevent the spread (metastasis) of cancer by disrupting its ability to invade other cells or to develop new blood vessels (angiogenesis).

Antimicrobial drugs: Drugs that kill bacteria, such as antibiotics.

Antineoplaston therapy: An unproven alternative method to treat cancer based on using synthetic chemicals called antineoplastons to help the body protect itself from the disease.

Apoptosis: The process by which cells kill themselves. It is also referred to as “cell suicide” or “programmed cell death.”

Arachidonic acid: An omega-6 fatty acid that is found mainly in red meats, whole milk and cheese, and egg yolks. Arachidonic acid promotes inflammation and pain in the body.

Arterial (adj.): Relating to the arteries.

Artificial sphincter: An implanted device used to treat incontinence that has persisted for a year or longer and shows no signs of improving on its own.

Asymptomatic (adj.): Experiencing no symptoms. A man with asymptomatic prostate cancer doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary; he feels fine.

Atypical (adj.): Generally, a term that means something does not conform or is irregular. When referring to cells, it means they do not look normal but they are not necessarily cancerous.

Ayurvedic medicine: An ancient healing system based on the concept that disease is caused by an imbalance in the three body types and/or karmic disturbances such as not fulfilling your life’s purpose.

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B

Benign (adj.): Generally refers to something that is harmless, not cancerous, and/or not fatal.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or enlargement of the prostate, is a benign condition that occurs in most older men. The prostate tissue begins to grow around the urethra, gradually compressing it and hindering urine flow.

Biologic therapy: A treatment method in which a patient’s immune system is used to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or in a lab are used to boost, restore, or direct the body’s natural defenses against cancer.

Biopsy of the prostate: A medical test that involves removing a tissue sample from the prostate so it can be examined for the presence of cancer. A biopsy of the prostate is done with the help of a transrectal ultrasound.

Bisphenol A (BPA): A chemical that is used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It is ubiquitous in the environment and is associated with a risk of cancer.

Bladder: A hollow, muscular organ that functions as a holding tank for urine.

Bladder neck: The junction between the bladder and the prostate.

Bladder neck contracture: A constriction of the bladder neck, caused by scar tissue, that can impede the flow of urine.

Bladder spasms: Painful, uncontrollable constrictions of the bladder that can result in a sudden, urgent need to urinate.

Bladder stones: Tiny crystal masses composed of minerals and proteins found in urine. They are also referred to as urinary calculi.

Bloodless field: A surgical term that means the bleeding is controlled in the designated operating site of the patient, allowing surgeons a better field of vision in which to work.

Blood-prostate barrier: A membrane that prevents many substances, including antibiotics, from entering the prostate gland. This barrier breaks down during bacterial prostatitis, permitting most antibiotics to enter.

Bone scan: An imaging procedure that allows clinicians to visualize areas of bone growth and/or abnormalities. A bone scan, which is also called radionuclide scintigraphy, involves injecting a radioactive tracer chemical into the bloodstream, which is attracted to bone. A bone scan is an excellent way to discover whether prostate cancer has spread to the bone.

Bound PSA: PSA molecules in the bloodstream that are chemically tied to proteins. Other PSA molecules without chemical ties are called “free.” If a man’s PSA test shows that most of the PSA is bound, the PSA elevation is likely associated with cancer.

BPH: See benign prostatic hyperplasia

BPSA: This is a particular form of free PSA produced by the prostate’s transition zone, a thin ring of tissue that surrounds the urethra, in BPH. BPSA is more of a marker for BPH than for cancer.

Brachytherapy: A prostate cancer treatment that involves implanting radioactive seeds into the prostate.

BUN test: The blood-urea-nitrogen test, a blood test used to check kidney function.

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C

Calculi: See prostatic calculi.

Capsule of the prostate: The outer wall of the prostate gland.

Carotenoids: A class of more than 600 pigments synthesized by plants. Carotenoids have antioxidant properties and are found mostly in fruits and vegetables.

Castrate range: The level to which testosterone levels drop after orchiectomy. This is an important point of comparison in monitoring hormone therapy, as certain drugs are judged by their ability to reduce testosterone to this range.

Castration: See orchiectomy.

Catheter: A tube used for drainage or irrigation, most commonly to drain urine out of the bladder.

Catheterization: A procedure in which a tube is inserted into the urethra to drain urine from the bladder. Catheterization is used after prostate surgery and in the treatment of acute urinary retention.

Cell division: The process by which the body’s cells multiply. A single cell divides in two, and those two cells divide in two, and so on.

Chemical castration: The use of drugs to lower testosterone levels to the critical “castrate range,” which is also accomplished with an orchiectomy.

Chemotherapeutic drugs: Medications designed to kill cancer cells as part of cancer treatment.

Cholecalciferol: The naturally occurring form of vitamin D, also known as D3. Cholecalciferol is made when sunlight strikes bare skin, and it is also the form found in supplements.

Chronic bacterial prostatitis: A form of prostatitis associated with urinary tract infections, positive cultures that identify bacteria in the prostate, and an abundance of white blood cells in the prostatic secretions. This condition can recur for years after an initial episode of acute bacterial prostatitis.

Chronic prostatitis/ chronic pelvic pain syndrome: Chronic prostatitis without infection (chronic pelvic pain syndrome) is a form of prostatitis for which the cause is unknown. Antibiotics do not help because there is no infection, and in some men the pain and other symptoms may be a result of spasms in the pelvis, rectum, or lower back and not involve the prostate.

Clinical stage of prostate cancer: An estimation of the extent of a man’s cancer based on factors such as the digital rectal exam, the PSA test, and bone scan. Pathologic stage is much more accurate, but this can only be determined when a pathologist examines actual prostate tissue after surgery.

Clonal selection: The process whereby the most poorly differentiated, rapidly growing, aggressive cells overtake the slower, well-differentiated cells as a tumor progresses.

Complexed PSA: Another term for bound PSA. A new assay measures the amount of PSA bound to the particular protein that binds it, a protein called alpha-1-antichymotrypsin (ACT).

Conformal radiation therapy: A technique that delivers external-beam radiation, which maximizes the dose of radiation to the prostate tumor while minimizing the risk of damage to healthy adjacent tissue.

Corpora cavernosa and corpus spongiosum: The spongy chambers in the penis that become engorged with blood during an erection.

Creatinine test: A blood test (also called a serum creatinine test) that checks for impaired kidney function.

Cryoablation, cryotherapy: A procedure that uses extremely cold liquid nitrogen to freeze the entire prostate, causing cancer cells within the gland to rupture as they begin to thaw.

CT (computed tomography) scan: A series of images taken by an x-ray machine as it moves around the body. A computer puts the pictures together, generating images that, as in an MRI, are like slices of anatomy.

Cystometry: A test that involves passing a small catheter through the urethra into the bladder to measure bladder pressure and function. Changes in pressure are monitored as the bladder fills with water.

Cystoscope: A tiny, lighted tube that is inserted into the tip of the anesthetized penis and threaded through the urethra into the bladder during a cystoscopy. This allows the doctor to inspect the bladder, prostate, and urethra for abnormalities.

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D

Deep venous thrombosis: A condition characterized by the formation of blood clots in deep veins of the legs, a potential complication of major surgery, such as radical prostatectomy. At best, these clots can be painful. At worst they are fatal if a clot breaks free and travels up into the lungs. These clots should be treated immediately.

DES: See estrogens.

DHT (dihydrotestosterone): The active form of male hormone in the prostate. It is made when testosterone is transformed by an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.

DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation): A blood-clotting disorder that develops in some men who have advanced prostate cancer.

Differentiating agents: Drugs that work by slowing down cancer’s rate of growth.

Differentiation of prostate cancer cells: A term to describe how cancer cells look under the microscope. Well-differentiated cells have distinct, clearly defined borders, clear centers, and relatively slow and orderly growth. Everything about poorly differentiated cells is not so well defined. As cancer progresses, poorly differentiated cells seem to melt together and form solid malignancies. These are the most aggressive cells in a tumor, and they are given a high grade (8, 9, 10) in the Gleason scoring system. Well-differentiated cells are called low-grade (2, 3, 4). Moderately well-differentiated cells fall in between (5, 6, 7), and it’s hard to predict what these cells will do.

Digital rectal exam (DRE): An important examination during which a doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into a man’s rectum to feel for lumps, enlargement, or areas of hardness that might indicate the presence of cancer. A DRE is uncomfortable but not painful, and it generally lasts less than one minute.

Dihydrotestosterone: The most potent androgen inside prostate cells. This hormone is formed when the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase transforms testosterone.

Diuretics: Drugs that alter how the body metabolizes sodium, which causes the kidneys to absorb less water and release more of it in the form of urine. For most people, diuretics cause more frequent urination and a more forceful stream, which can be problematic for a man with BPH.

Diverticula: Pockets of the bladder lining that poke out like balloons through the bladder wall. (A single one is called a diverticulum.)

DNA: The vital genetic information contained in the nucleus of every cell.

Dorsiflexion exercise: A good exercise to do immediately after surgery. It involves pumping the feet up and down to exercise the calf muscles.

Double-blind study: A study in which neither the doctor nor the study staff nor the patient knows who’s receiving placebo or the active ingredient/medication.

Dry ejaculation: Also known as retrograde ejaculation, dry ejaculation is a complication of some prostate procedures, including prostatectomy, TURP, or radiation therapy. In dry ejaculation, semen goes back into the bladder rather than out through the urethra when a man reaches sexual climax. This happens because part of the bladder neck is often resected along with the prostate tissue, or when the prostate and seminal vesicles are removed. For most men, dry ejaculation does not affect the pleasant sensation of orgasm.

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E

Edema: Swelling of soft tissues caused by excess fluid accumulation or retention.

Ejaculate (noun): Semen, the fluid that exits the body through the urethra during ejaculation, or sexual climax. “Ejaculate” is also a verb.

Ejaculation: The emission of semen at the climax of sexual intercourse.

Endothelin: A chemical that appears to be the cause of the excruciating, debilitating pain that comes when prostate cancer invades the bone. Endothelin-blocking drugs are now being tested.

EPCA (early prostate cancer antigen): A protein found in the blood at higher levels in men who have prostate cancer than in men without the disease. EPCA may be more specific for prostate cancer than is PSA, and if further research bears this out, a test could reduce unnecessary biopsies, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment of prostate cancer.

Epididymis: A structure within the scrotum where sperm mature and are stored until orgasm.

Epididymitis: An infection or inflammation of the epididymis. This may occur after a surgical procedure that damages the ejaculatory ducts, allowing infected urine to “back up” into the vas deferens.

Epidural anesthesia: Administration of a local anesthetic through a tiny plastic tube, inserted between the vertebrae of the spine, near the small of the back. The epidural anesthetic bathes the area outside the membrane lining the spinal cord, temporarily numbing the nerves in the lower body. Unlike spinal anesthesia, which is delivered in one dose, epidural anesthesia can be given continuously. The area of numbness can be adjusted, as can the degree of pain relief.

Epithelial cells: Cells in the glandular tissue of the prostate, which secrete fluid that becomes part of semen.

Erectile dysfunction (ED): The inability to maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.

Estradiol: One of the three main types of estrogen, estradiol is produced by the testes in males and by the ovaries and adrenal cortex in females.

Estrogen dominance: A condition in which the body has too much estrogen in proportion to progesterone. In men, estrogen dominance occurs when testosterone levels are not sufficient to stop or balance the effects of estradiol. This imbalance can contribute to BPH, hair loss, atherosclerosis, reduced sex drive, weight gain, and impotency.

Estrogens: Female hormones, of which there are three main types: estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Estrogens block the release of a signal transmitted by the pituitary gland called luteinizing hormone (LH), which stimulates testosterone. Oral estrogens, taken as hormone therapy by men with prostate cancer, may reduce testosterone levels to the crucial castrate range.

Excise (verb): To cut out or to remove surgically.

External-beam radiation therapy: A curative treatment for prostate cancer that involves beaming x-ray energy into a prostate tumor a few minutes at a time, over the course of several weeks.

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F

False negative: A test result that shows no evidence of the disease or condition being investigated, even though the condition is really present.

False positive: A test result that shows evidence of a disease or condition, but the condition is not really present.

Fascia: A thin but strong layer of connective tissue that envelopes and separates layers of muscle and organs.

5-alpha reductase: Enzymes in the prostate that convert testosterone to DHT.

5-alpha reductase inhibitors: A class of drugs used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) by blocking the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, the major male sex hormone within the cells of the prostate.

Fluoroscopy: An x-ray image that appears live on a monitor instead of as a still photograph.

Foley catheter: A catheter inserted into the penis and threaded through the urethra to the bladder, where it’s anchored in place with a tiny, inflated balloon. A Foley catheter removes urine from the body, but it can also be used for irrigation to prevent blood clots.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH): A pituitary hormone that stimulates sperm production by the testicles.

Following expectantly: See active surveillance and watchful waiting.

Free PSA: PSA that is not chemically bound to proteins in the bloodstream. If a man has elevated PSA and most of the PSA is “free,” then the elevation is probably due to BPH. Free PSA is also known as “percent free” PSA.

Free radicals: Unstable molecules that have an uneven number of electrons and so are always searching for an extra electron to steal from another molecule. This process is responsible for tissue damage, aging, and some diseases, including cancer.

Frozen section: A tissue sample that is frozen and then sliced into very thin sections so it can be examined under a microscope. In a staging pelvic lymphadenectomy, lymph nodes are removed, and then rushed to a pathologist for frozen-section analysis to check for cancer.

FSH: Follicle-stimulating hormone, which is produced along with LH by the pituitary gland. FSH has its major effect on sperm production.

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G

Gene therapy: A promising nonhormonal treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Scientists are now able to program the body’s DNA like a computer chip, sending it on a selective search and destroy mission targeted only at prostate cancer cells.

Genetic drift: The steady downslide characteristic of cancer progression. Briefly, as a cancer progresses, its cells double over and over again and the DNA becomes less stable. The cancer develops new mutations and becomes more aggressive. As the tumor progresses, well-differentiated cells deteriorate into poorly differentiated cells.

Genetic susceptibility: A complex of genetic factors that creates a more hospitable atmosphere for cancer.

Glandular cells: Cells in the prostate that produce part of the fluid portion of semen. Also called epithelial cells.

Gleason score: A classification system for grading cancer based on how the cells look under a microscope. Cells that are well-differentiated are given a low grade (2, 3, 4); poorly differentiated cells are given a high grade (8, 9, 10). Moderately well-differentiated cells fall right in the middle. See also differentiation of prostate cancer cells.

Glutathione-S transferase-p (pronounced “pie”, called GST-p for short): An important enzyme that helps provide oxidative damage, which can lead to prostate cancer.

Grade of prostate cancer: See Gleason score.

Grading: A method to determine how different cancer cells are from normal healthy cells. Also see Gleason score.

Growth factors: Naturally occurring substances that activate processes that promote cell division and growth.

Gynecomastia: A condition characterized by tenderness, pain, or swelling of the breasts in men. This is a common, easily treatable side effect of some forms of hormone therapy for prostate cancer.

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H

Hematuria: Blood in the urine, which can be either visible (gross) or microscopic.

Hemi-body irradiation: A once-common form of radiation treatment to ease pain in prostate cancer patients with metastases to bone in several places. The procedure involves irradiating large expanses of the body.

Hereditary prostate cancer (HPC): HPC is present in families if there are three first-degree relatives (a father or brothers) who develop prostate cancer, or two first-degree relatives, if both developed it before age fifty five; or if prostate cancer has occurred in three generations in the family (grandfather, father, son). HPC can be inherited from either side of the family.

Heterogeneity: A state of being diverse, varied, or not uniform. In prostate cancer and BPH, heterogeneity refers to a “melting pot” of cells, all jockeying for position in one area.

High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy: A type of brachytherapy that is usually given along with external-beam radiation. It is also called temporary brachytherapy, referring to the fact that the seeds are removed at the end of each treatment session.

hK2 (humankallikrein-2): An enzyme made by the prostate that’s a “cousin” of PSA.

Hormone-dependent, -sensitive: See androgen-dependent, -sensitive

Hormone-independent, -insensitive: See androgen-independent, -insensitive

Hormone-refractory prostate cancer: Metastatic prostate cancer that returns months or years after it has been controlled by hormonal therapy.

Hormone therapy: The use of hormones to slow progression of prostate cancer by preventing testosterone from acting on cancer cells. Hormone therapy is usually used to treat (not cure) prostate cancer that has metastasized.

Hot flash: A sudden rush of warmth in the face, neck, upper chest, and back, lasting from a few seconds to an hour. A hot flash is a side effect of some hormonal treatments for prostate cancer, and although not harmful, they can be bothersome.

Hydrogenation: A process by which hydrogen is passed through a liquid fat to harden it, resulting in a product such as margarine or a substance used as a preservative. Hydrogenated foods raise cholesterol levels and may contribute to oxidative damage.

Hyperplasia: An abnormal increase in the number of cells in an organ or tissue. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is an example of a condition in which this has occurred.

Hyper-reflexive (adj): Overly reactive; spastic.

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I

Imaging (verb): Visualizing and taking pictures of the inside of the body using various forms of energy including ultrasound, magnetic resonance (MRI), and X-rays.

Immune-augmentative therapy: A therapeutic approach based on the idea that the body’s immune system can defeat cancer by taking a protein mixture made from human blood that contains so-called “antitumor antibodies” and “deblocking proteins.”

Immunotherapy: A type of therapy designed to maximize the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.

Impotence: An inability to have an erection. Also called erectile dysfunction, in most cases this is very treatable.

Incidental prostate cancer: A typically dormant form of cancer, consisting of small clusters of cancer cells, that resides in millions of men. In some men, this cancer never becomes active, although in others it eventually does.

Incontinence: Unintentional and involuntary leakage of urine, also known as urinary incontinence, or an unintentional bowel movement, known as bowel or fecal incontinence.

Infectious prostatitis: A term some doctors use to describe bacterial prostatitis. Bacterial prostatitis is not infectious, however, so men with the condition can continue a normal sex life without worries of spreading the disease.

Insulin-like growth factors: A class of hormones that may influence the development of prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy: An approach to external-beam radiation, in which X-ray beams converge on a selected target. The intensity can be increased, to blast the cancer, or decreased, to spare normal tissue.

Intermittent hormonal therapy (also called intermittent androgen suppression): A treatment plan in which men start taking hormones before signs or symptoms of advanced cancer begin. When their PSA levels drop, they stop taking the hormones. The men are monitored closely, and at the first sign that the tumor is growing, they restart hormone therapy.

Interstitial laser coagulation: A minimally invasive therapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), in which a needle is placed through the urethra to deliver laser energy to the prostate.

Intra-abdominal (adj): Within the abdomen.

Intraurethral (adj): Within the urethra.

Intraurethral therapy: A type of treatment for men who have ED that involves placing medication directly into the urethra. One of the medications used is called MUSE, which is a tiny suppository.

Invasive (adj): When used in a medical sense, invasive means the body is entered physically. Invasive surgery involves an incision. In minimally invasive surgery, the incision may be as small as a dime, or there may be no incision at all if one of the body’s own passageways, such as the urethra during a TURP procedure, is used.

Irritative symptoms in BPH: These include frequent urination, especially at night, a strong sense of urgency to urinate, an inability to postpone urination, and sleep disrupted by the need to urinate.

Isoflavones: Organic compounds found in plants (phytochemicals), but mainly present in soybeans. Isoflavones have estrogenic properties and have been shown to promote bone formation, while reports on its impact on cancer are mixed. Genistein is a common isoflavone.

IV: An abbreviation for intravenous, which literally means “through the veins.” Medication, fluids, or nutritional supplements can be administered this way.

IVP (intravenous pyelogram): An X-ray of the urinary tract that involves injecting a special dye, which makes urine visible. Clinicians can then easily trace the path of urine as it moves out of the body and detect any blockages. Some men have severe allergic reactions to this dye.

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K

Kegel exercises: Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Kegel exercises may help men recover bladder function more quickly after prostate surgery.

Kidneys: The paired organs located near the middle of the back, situated one on each side of the spine. Their main function is to filter the blood and sift out waste products and extra water, thus cleansing the body of impurities and, at the same time, recycling useful materials.

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L

Laparoscopic pelvic lymphadenectomy: A procedure that involves dissecting the lymph nodes as a way to stage prostate cancer. Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive, requiring only a tiny incision, and much of the surgery is conducted through “telescopes.”

Laser prostatectomy: A treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in which laser energy is used to destroy excess prostate tissue.

Latent (adj): Dormant; passive.

Lateral lobe enlargement: A form of BPH that results when prostate tissue compresses the urethra from the sides.

Libido: Sex drive.

Lignans: A type of phytochemical (polyphenols) that has antioxidant properties. Flaxseed is one of the richest plant food sources of lignans, which provide a significant amount of fiber.

Linoleic acid: An unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid that is liquid at room temperature and found in corn oils, baked goods, and many snack foods.

Livingston-Wheeler therapy: An alternative cancer therapy that is based on the theory that a microbe called Progenitor cryptocides is responsible for the development of cancer when the immune system is inadequate. The therapy involves receiving a vaccine and taking antibiotics, enemas, supplements, and other methods designed to produce antibodies against P. cyptocides.

Localized prostate cancer: Cancer that is confined within the prostate, therefore considered curable.

Local recurrence of cancer: A situation in which cancer returns to the prostate or nearby tissue after treatment.

Luteinizing hormone (LH): A hormone produced by the pituitary that stimulates the release of testosterone from the testicles.

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LH-RH): Luteinizing hormone–releasing hormone (also called GnRH, for gonadotropin-releasing hormone), a chemical signal produced in the brain by the hypothalamus. LH-RH tells the pituitary gland to make LH and FSH.

Luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists: Medications with chemical structures that are nearly identical to natural LH-RH. LH-RH agonists block the release of luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland, thus reducing testosterone secretion from the testicles.

Lycopene: A potent antioxidant found primarily in tomatoes, but also in red grapefruit, watermelon, and berries. Lycopene fights oxidative damage, which may lead to prostate cancer.

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M

Meares-Stanley Four Glass Test: A test that allows clinicians to determine the type and degree of infection and inflammation in the lower urinary tract of men who are experiencing symptoms of chronic prostatitis. Urine samples are collected from the beginning of a urination, one from the middle, a sample of prostatic secretions, and a urine sample following the secretion sample.

Metastasis, metastases, metastatic: Metastasis is the spreading of cancer from the original tumor to other parts of the body. A distant metastasis means this new site of cancer is far from its point of origin. The word metastases is plural, and metastatic is an adjective that refers to a metastasis.

Micrometastases: Tiny, invisible (and undetectable) offshoots of prostate cancer.

Middle lobe enlargement: A type of BPH in which a lobe of prostate tissue grows up inside the bladder. When it reaches a critical size, it can block the opening of the bladder neck like a cork in a bottle. This explains how some men with a “small prostate on rectal exam” can develop major symptoms of urinary obstruction.

Mini-laparotomy: A mini-laparotomy staging pelvic lymphadenectomy is a procedure in which the surgeon makes an incision that is slightly larger than in a laparoscopic pelvic lymphadenectomy. If there’s cancer in the lymph nodes, the incision is closed. If the lymph nodes are cancer free, the incision is lengthened and a radical retropubic prostatectomy is performed immediately.

Mitochondria: The energy-generating portion of cells.

Monounsaturated fats: A type of dietary fat that is considered to be “good” or “healthy” and thus does not contribute to prostate cancer. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): An imaging technique that involves the use of magnetisim, radio waves, and a computer to produce three-dimensional images of body structures. It is a painless, noninvasive procedure that does not involve x-rays, but it is time-consuming.

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N

Nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy: A procedure in which surgeons use techniques that reduce blood loss and allow men to remain potent and continent after radical prostatectomy. To accomplish this, surgeons carefully cut around the nerves that affect a man’s ability to have an erection. Some physicians refer to this procedure as the anatomical approach to radical retropubic prostatectomy.

Neurogenic bladder: A urinary condition in which the bladder does not empty properly because of a neurological problem.

Neurotransmitter: A chemical that is released from a nerve cell and transmits signals from that cell to another nerve, muscle, organ, or other tissue.

Neurovascular bundles: Cordlike structures that run down the side of the prostate near the rectum. These bundles contain microscopic nerves that are essential for erection, as well as arteries and veins that help surgeons identify the location of these nerves.

Nitric oxide: A substance that is released by nerve endings during erection, causing the smooth muscle tissue in the penis to relax.

Nocturia: Frequent urination during the night. A man has nocturia if he has to get up several times a night to go to the bathroom. Nocturia is often a symptom of BPH.

Nocturnal penile tumescence test: A noninvasive technique that electronically monitors the frequency, rigidity, and/or circumference changes of erections during REM sleep. The absence of erections indicates a possible organic cause of erectile dysfunction.

Nonbacterial prostatitis: See chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome

Noninvasive (adj): Not invasive. Generally this means a procedure that does not involve instruments that break the skin or physically enter the body, such as through the urethra or placing a tube down the throat into the stomach. Examples of noninvasive procedures include x-rays, CT scans, taking blood pressure, and so on. Noninvasive devices include hearing aids, eye glasses, and crutches.

Nutraceuticals: A term that was created from the words “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical” in 1989, it is generally defined as a food or a portion of a food product that provides health benefits, including the prevention and/or treatment of symptoms or disease.

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O

Obstructive symptoms in BPH: Symptoms include weak urinary flow, hesitancy in starting urination, a need to push or strain to get urine to flow, intermittent urine stream (starts and stops several times), difficulty in stopping urination, “dribbling” after urination, a sense of not being able to empty the bladder completely, and not being able to urinate at all.

Omega-3 fatty acids: A type of essential fatty acid that is found mainly in fish oils, but also some plants such as flaxseed and walnuts. Two important omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which may be helpful in promoting prostate health.

Orchiectomy: A surgical procedure in which the testicles are partially or completely removed. This is a dramatic form of hormone therapy that results in testosterone levels dropping to the castrate range.

Orgasm: The climax of sexual intercourse.

Overflow incontinence: A condition in which urine leaks out through the urethra because the bladder is too full to hold any more.

Oxidative damage: Incremental damage to the DNA in the cells caused by free radicals. Cell mutations and cancer can be the result of oxidative damage.

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P

Palliative therapy: Treatment whose goal is to relieve pain and limit disease complications rather than cure a disease or condition.

Palpable (adj): Able to be felt; tangible. Palpable cancer in the prostate means there’s a lump, lesion, or nodule that a doctor’s gloved finger can feel during a digital rectal exam.

Partin grading method: A set of tables that help doctors predict whether a cancer is limited to the prostate or has metastasized to nearby tissues or lymph nodes. The prediction is based on a patient’s PSA level, cancer stage, and Gleason score.

Pathologic fracture: A fracture that occurs when bones become brittle due to invasion by cancer. Men with metastatic prostate cancer are prone to broken bones, or pathologic fractures, with the most susceptible bones being those that bear most of the body’s weight, such as the hip and thigh.

Pathologic stage of cancer: The definitive extent of a man’s prostate cancer, which is determined after examination of prostate and nearby lymph node tissue removed during prostate surgery. The possible stages include organ confined cancer, capsular penetration, positive surgical margins, invasion of the seminal vesicles, and/or involvement of the pelvic lymph nodes.

Pathologist: A doctor who examines cells, tissues, and organs, and makes determinations about them, answering such questions as “Is there cancer here?” and “Was all the cancer removed?”

PCA3 assay: An alternative test for prostate cancer, currently available in Europe. This test detects the overexpression of a gene called PCA3 in urine. Research indicates that PCA3 is highly evident in the majority of men who have prostate cancer.

PC-SPES: A preparation consisting of eight herbs, most of them used in Chinese medicine, used to treat prostate cancer. Some of the herbs are potent phytoestrogens, and it appears that the estrogen is the key to how PC-SPES works.

Penile (adj): Relating to the penis.

Penile clamp: A device that compresses the penis to prevent urine from leaking.

Penile implants: Bendable, inflatable, or mechanical prostheses that enable an impotent man to have erections and a normal sex life.

Perforation: Puncture.

Perineal prostatectomy: A type of radical prostatectomy in which the incision is made into the perineum instead of into the abdomen.

Perineum: The area between the scrotum and rectum.

Perineural invasion: A condition in which prostate cancer has invaded the spaces around the nerves near the edge of the prostate. Because cancer that has penetrated the capsule can still be cured, perineural invasion has no long-term impact on a man’s prognosis.

Peripheral zone: The largest part of the prostate and the area where most prostate cancer occurs.

Periprostatic tissue: Tissue just outside the prostate.

Peyronie’s disease: A disorder in which scarring of the connective tissue within the penis causes curvature during erection.

Phosphodiesterase inhibitors: Drugs such as Viagra that can help facilitate an erection.

Photo-selective vaporization of the prostate (PVP): A procedure in which clinicians use a high-energy laser that is inserted into the penis and threaded through the urethra to vaporize excess prostatic tissue and seal it with heat simultaneously.

Phytochemicals: Non-nutritive plant chemicals derived from plants that have protective or disease-preventive properties. Experts estimate there are more than one thousand phytochemicals.

Phytoestrogens: Estrogen-like substances that are derived from plants and that are weaker than the estrogen produced by the body.

Phytonutrients: Certain organic components of plants that are believed to promote human health.

Phytotherapy: The use of plant-derived substances to treat a medical condition such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

PIN (prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia): Abnormal cells, found in a needle biopsy, that are strongly linked to prostate cancer.

Placebo: A “sugar pill” often taken by participants in a medical study. Patients taking a placebo are typically considered to be “controls” and their results are compared with those of patients who take the actual medications.

Placebo effect: A phenomenon that happens often in medical studies, in which patients taking a placebo have an inexplicable improvement in symptoms.

Polyphenols: A group of chemicals found in plants that have potent antioxidant properties and thus can fight against free radical damage and oxidative stress.

Polyunsaturated fats: A type of fat that stays liquid at room temperature and when chilled. It is found in vegetable oils (corn oil, safflower oil, and other cooking oils), nuts and seeds, fish oils, and margarine. The group includes both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Pre and post massage test (PPMT): A less expensive and less time-consuming version of the Meares-Stanley test that is used for men who have symptoms of chronic prostatitis. For the PPMT, a clinician collects urine samples before and after the prostate is massaged and they are evaluated for signs of infection.

Pressure-flow studies: Tests that measure bladder pressure during urination by placing a recording device into the bladder and often into the rectum as well.

Proliferation: Spread, or growth, as in “proliferation of cancer.”

ProstaScint: A test for detecting prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (except bones).

Prostate: A muscular, walnut-shaped gland about an inch and a half long that sits directly under the bladder. Its main function is to make part of the fluid for semen. (Note: “Prostate” is often confused with the adjective “prostrate,” which means lying face down, or being exhausted.)

Prostate biopsy: A test that involves taking a small sample of prostate tissue for examination in a laboratory.

Prostatectomy: A surgical procedure in which the prostate gland is removed. A radical prostatectomy involves removal of the prostate and some of the surrounding tissue.

Prostate massage: An important test for prostatitis that is done during a digital rectal exam. A doctor vigorously massages or presses on the prostate to express, or force, fluid out of the gland and into the urethra. It then is collected on a glass slide and examined under a microscope.

Prostate-membrane specific antigen (PMSA): A protein that is made on the surface of prostate cells.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA): An enzyme made by the prostate. Levels of PSA can be checked in a simple blood test, and elevated amounts may signal prostate cancer or other prostate problems.

Prostatic abscess: The localized accumulation of pus under pressure in the prostate.

Prostatic calculi: Tiny and often harmless stones that can accumulate in the prostate. If the prostatic calculi become infected, as they often do in men with chronic bacterial prostatitis, they can cause an infection to persist, and symptoms of urinary tract infections and prostatitis to return again and again.

Prostatic massage: A technique that was once used to improve a man’s sexual prowess, but today it is used to treat prostatitis, BPH, male infertility, and other prostate disorders, as well as sexual problems.

Prosthetic urethra: The portion of the urethra that runs through the prostate.

Prostatitis: An inflammatory condition of the prostate that may cause pain in the lower back and in the area between the scrotum and rectum.

Prostatodynia: Another term for chronic nonbacterial prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

Prostatosis: A vague, unhelpful term that means simply “a condition of the prostate.”

Prosthesis: An artificial replacement for part of the body that is either missing or not functioning properly, such as an artificial arm or leg.

Prostvac-VF: A vaccine for prostate cancer that entered Phase III clinical trials in late 2010.

Proton-beam radiation: A type of external-beam radiation therapy that uses charged particles instead of electromagnetic waves. The proton beam shoots in a straight line, but it can be stopped abruptly–for example, at the delicate rectal wall, just on the other side of the prostate–so the fragile tissue in the rectum can be spared.

Provenge: A vaccine-like drug that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in April 2010 for specific types of prostate cancer.

PSA: See prostate-specific antigen

PSA density: The blood PSA score divided by the volume of the prostate, as determined by transrectal ultrasound.

PSA velocity: PSA’s rate of change from year to year.

Psychogenic erectile dysfunction: Erection problems that are psychological (emotional), not physiological, in nature. Clinicians may make this diagnosis if a man can’t produce an erection during sexual activity but has several at night while asleep.

Pulmonary embolus: A blood clot (embolus) in the lungs, a potential complication of radical prostatectomy and a potentially fatal condition.

Pulsed Doppler evaluation: A test that uses high-resolution ultrasound to evaluate the arteries’ blood supply to the penis.

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Q

Quality of life: Basically, this means how good individuals rate their life. When quality of life is excellent, patients are relatively untroubled by symptoms or pain. When it is poor, pain or symptoms have interfered with their ability to function, pursue daily activities, and to enjoy life.

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R

Radiation “seeds”: See brachytherapy

Radiation therapy: See external-beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy

Radical prostatectomy: A surgical procedure to remove the prostate, and the “gold standard” for curing localized prostate cancer.

Radioactive strontium 89: A highly effective radioactive substance that is injected into the body as a specifically tailored treatment for bone pain in cancer patients.

Radionuclide scintigraphy: See bone scan

Randomize: A term clinicians and scientists use when discussing medical studies in which some participants are assigned one treatment or another at random.

Receptors: Highly specific “locks” in cells that are opened, or activated, only by certain hormones or chemical signals, which act as keys.

Regeneration: Regrowth

Resect (verb): To cut out, to remove surgically

Resectoscope: An instrument used in the TURP procedure. The resectoscope is threaded through the penis and shines a light that allows surgeons to view the prostate as they remove excessive tissue.

Residual urine: Urine that remains in the bladder after urinating. Residual urine can become infected or lead to the formation of bladder stones.

Retreatment, reoperation: The need to undergo a repeat procedure to treat the same initial problem.

Retrograde ejaculation: See dry ejaculation

Retropubic (adj): Literally “behind the pubic bones.” In retropubic prostatectomy, the surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen, separates the abdominal muscles, and moves the bladder aside, unopened, to reach the prostate directly. This differs from a suprapubic approach, in which the prostate is reached by cutting through the bladder.

Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR): A technique in which scientists examine cells from the blood to determine whether those cells can make PSA.

Revici’s guided chemotherapy: A cancer treatment approach based on the theory that cancer is caused by an imbalance in lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides, and other substances).

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S

Salvage therapy: A medical term for Plan B, which means a patient must undergo another form of treatment because Plan A, the first treatment tried, was not successful. Salvage therapy is often associated with a higher rate of complications.

Saturated fats: A type of dietary fat that is pervasive in the average American diet. Saturated fats are associated with an increased risk of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, among others. They are found in red meat, poultry, and dairy products.

Selenium: A mineral in the soil that is found in fruits and vegetables, meats, and fish. It has antioxidant properties and may help prevent prostate cancer.

Semen: The fluid that transports sperm.

Seminal vesicles: Glands that secrete fluid that is critical in ensuring the consistency of semen.

Sex accessory tissue: A term that refers to glands such as the prostate, seminal vesicles, and Cowper’s gland, which produce secretions that become part of the fluid in semen.

Sextant biopsy: An attempt to get a comprehensive picture of the prostate by taking six tiny samples of cells from different portions or segments of the gland.

Simple prostatectomy: A type of surgery for BPH that typically involves removing only the inner portion of the prostate. It is performed either through the urethra (TURP) or by making an incision in the lower abdomen (retropubic or suprapubic prostatectomy).

Sinousoids: Spongy chambers within the penis that become engorged with blood during an erection.

Small-cell carcinoma: A type of prostate cancer in which the cells in the tumor have a makeup similar to that of other small-cell cancers, such as those of the lung. Therefore, they respond to the same kind of chemotherapy used to treat small-cell tumors.

Smooth muscle cells: Muscle cells in the prostate that contract to push prostatic fluid into the urethra during ejaculation.

Spinal anesthesia: An injection of a local anesthetic into the small of the back through the dura, the membrane lining in the spinal cord, and into the spinal fluid. Within minutes, the patient feels numb, relaxed, and heavy from the waist down.

Spinal cord compression: A very serious problem in which the spinal cord is compressed by bone fragments associated with a fracture, a tumor, ruptured discs, abscess, or other lesion. In men with metastatic prostate cancer, the disease can eat away at the spine, causing part of the spinal column to collapse, trapping and sometimes crushing nearby nerves.

Spot radiation: External-beam radiation treatment that is targeted at one of several painful bone metastases. It will not prevent new bone metastases from cropping up, but it can ease pain dramatically in the sites treated.

Stage of prostate cancer: Determining the extent of the disease: how big it is, how far it has spread. Knowing the stage of prostate cancer has a major role in determining what treatment a man should receive. See also clinical stage and pathologic stage.

Staging pelvic lymphadenectomy: A procedure that involves dissecting the pelvic lymph nodes to see whether they contain prostate cancer. This procedure is generally performed just before a radical prostatectomy.

Stents: Tubes that are implanted and left in place to hold open a space that would otherwise collapse or be compressed. Stents can be used to keep a blood vessel open, for example.

Step-up hormonal therapy: A type of hormonal therapy in which physicians begin modulating a patient’s male hormones with agents that have the fewest side effects, and then escalate as needed if the disease progresses.

Stress incontinence: A situation in which urine leaks during certain activities, such as running or playing golf.

Stricture: A blockage caused by scar tissue.

Stromal cells: Cells found in the prostate’s smooth muscle tissue. Stromal cells contract automatically to launch secretions into the urethra.

Subcapsular orchiectomy: A cosmetic surgery approach to orchiectomy. In this operation, a surgeon opens the lining to the testicles and empties the contents of each testicle. The lining is reclosed and the empty shell is placed back inside the scrotum. From the outside, no one can tell the testicles are empty.

Suprapubic (adj): Literally means to approach from above the pubis.

Surgical margins: The borders that are established when pathologists look at the edges of tissue that have been cut out during surgery. If no cancer appears on these edges and the margin is clear or negative, then it is fairly certain all cancerous tissue has been removed. If the margin is positive, it is uncertain all the cancer was removed.

Sutures: Surgical stitches, used to close an incision.

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T

Template: A highly sophisticated map of the prostate that helps doctors know exactly where to insert the radioactive seeds.

Testes or testicles: A man’s reproductive organs housed in the scrotum. They are the main source of the male hormone, testosterone, and of sperm.

Testosterone: The male hormone, or androgen, which is important to the prostate and is essential for sex drive and fertility. It is also responsible for male characteristics such as postpuberty body hair and deepening of the voice. A major goal of prostate cancer treatment is to lower testosterone levels.

Thermal enhanced metastatic therapy (TEMT): A therapeutic approach that involves depositing iron nanoparticles on the surface of prostate cancer cells and then using a special magnetic device to quickly heat the nanoparticles. Raising the temperature of prostate cancer cells makes them susceptible to chemotherapy and radiation.

Thermal therapy: The use of heat to destroy tissue.

Three-dimensional conformal radiation: A type of external-beam radiation in which many X-ray beams, shaped to fit the target area, are focused on the prostate, delivering a homogenous, high dose of radiation.

Three-glass urine collection: An important test for prostatitis in which three urine samples are collected: the first urine of a urination, urine collected in midstream, and urine taken after a brief prostate massage.

TNM system: A system for describing the clinical stage of a cancerous tumor using T numbers to indicate whether the tumor can be felt and, if so, the extent of the tumor. N numbers indicate cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes, and M numbers are used to indicate cancer that has spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body.

Total androgen blockade, or ablation: A form of hormone therapy to treat prostate cancer in which a man’s testosterone level is reduced to a castrate level through use of surgical castration, estrogen, or an LH-RH agonist. The theory behind this approach is that even low levels of testosterone and DHT can stimulate cancer in the prostate, and they must be stopped.

Transabdominal (adj): Through the abdomen.

Transition zone: The innermost ring of the prostate and the tissue that surrounds the urethra. This is the sole site of BPH.

Transperineal (adj): Through the perineum.

Transrectal (adj): Through the rectum.

Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS): A procedure that uses sound waves to create a video image of the prostate gland. A small, lubricated probe inserted into the rectum releases sound waves, which create echoes. Prostate tumors sometimes create echoes that differe from normal prostate tissue.

Transperineal biopsy: A biopsy that is performed through the perineum to detect prostate cancer.

Transurethral balloon dilation (TUBD): A procedure that involves inserting a small balloon into the penis and pushing it through the urethra until it reaches the part of the urethra that passes through the prostate. This pushes an enlarged prostate away from the urethra.

Transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP): A treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in which one or two small incisions are made in the prostate with an electrical knife or laser. These decrease the pressure exerted by the prostate on the urethra, thus alleviating symptoms of BPH.

Transurethral microwave therapy (TUMT): A treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) that involves inserting a catheter into the urethra. Microwave energy is sent through the catheter to heat and destroy prostate tissue.

Transurethral needle ablation (TUNA): A treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in which a catheter with tiny needles on its tip is inserted into the prostate through the urethra. Heat is delivered by low-energy radio waves through the needles to destroy prostate tissue.

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP): The “gold standard” operation to treat symptoms of BPH. An instrument called a resectoscope is inserted into the urethra and threaded to the prostate. Pieces of tissue are snipped and removed in fragments through the urethra. No incision is required.

Transurethral vaporization of the prostate (TVP): This variation of TURP uses a tiny electrified cylindrical roller to roll over the cancerous tissue, which allows the surgeon to vaporize the tissue rather than cut it.

Treatment-planning CT scan: CT images that show the physical terrain of the targeted area, the prostate and surrounding organs, before radiation treatment.

Triglyceride: A basic component of a fat that consists of a base substance called glycerol, to which are attached three fatty acid chains. When the body metabolizes triglycerides, they break down and are eventually deposited into the bloodstream.

Trilobar enlargement: A type of BPH involving three (two lateral and one middle) lobes, in which obstruction can occur in the bladder neck as well as the urethra.

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U

Ultrasound: A painless, noninvasive imaging technique that creates a picture using high-frequency sound waves. It may be done either from outside the body, through the abdomen, or transrectally, via a wand inserted in the rectum.

Ureters: Muscular, one-way channels that squeeze urine out from the kidneys and onward to the bladder.

Urethra: A tube that, like the prostate, is involved in both the urinary and reproductive systems. It serves as a passageway not only for urine, but for secretions from the ejaculatory ducts and the prostate.

Urethral sphincter: The muscle that is responsible for controlling the flow of urine out of the urethra.

Urethral stricture: Scar tissue that blocks the urethra.

Urethritis: A condition characterized by inflammation of the urethra, often caused by an infection. If left untreated, this can result in a urethral stricture or a serious infection that progresses back into the vas deferens and involves the epididymis.

Urge, or urgency, incontinence: Urine leakage that occurs when people know they need to urinate, but some urine leaks before they can reach the toilet.

Urinalysis: A physical, chemical, and microscopic examination of urine that involves several tests to detect and measure various compounds.

Urinary retention: A condition in which the bladder stays completely or partially full despite attempts to empty it. Acute urinary retention means someone can no longer urinate. This is a very serious condition that requires immediate treatment.

Urinary tract infection (UTI): A bacterial infection that can affect any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. In most cases, infections involve the lower urinary tract, which includes the urethra and bladder.

Urodynamic studies: Tests that measure urinary flow, pressures, and volumes to find out whether urinary trouble is caused by BPH or a problem associated with the bladder.

Uroflowmetry: A test that measures the amount of urine released and the speed at which it is released. It is used to evaluate the function of the urinary tract.

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

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V

Vacuum erection device: An apparatus that creates suction using an airtight tube, which is placed temporarily around the penis. An attached pump withdraws air, creating a vacuum around the penis, which in turn causes it to become engorged with blood and erect. Then a constricting ring, like a rubber band around the neck of a balloon, keeps the blood trapped in the penis so the erection can be sustained.

Vascular (adj): Involving blood vessels.

Vas deferens: The two hard, muscular cords that wind their way from the epididymis to the base of the prostate, where they meet with the duct of the seminal vesicle to form the ejaculatory duct.

Vasectomy: A surgical procedure that involves cutting the vas deferens, which prevents sperm from leaving the penis through ejaculation and is instead reabsorbed into the body. Vasectomy is a form of male contraception.

Vasodilators: Drugs that open up (dilate) blood vessels, making a wider channel for blood to go through. In the penis, vasodilators also cause the smooth muscle tissue to relax and the veins to close. Some vasodilators, injected in tiny amounts in the penis, are used to produce erections.

Venous (adj): Relating to the veins.

Venous leak: A condition in which blood flows out of the penis as fast or faster than it flows in. Venous leak is a common cause of erection problems. Even though the arteries fill the penis with blood, producing a partial erection, the veins don’t clamp down to keep this blood trapped inside the penis, so a full erection can’t be achieved.

Vitamin E: An antioxidant that may help prevent prostate cancer.

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W

Watchful waiting: Following someone’s symptoms closely but not initiating treatment until the symptoms become severe enough to warrant it. This is considered to be the most conservative treatment there is. Some doctors also call this “following expectantly.”

Wide excision: During a radical prostatectomy, a wide excision is what a surgeon performs when he or she cuts out as much tissue as possible surrounding the prostate in an aggressive attempt to get all the cancer.

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X

X-ray therapy: See external-beam radiation therapy.

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Z

Zones of the prostate: The prostate has five distinct zones, the two most common of which are the transition zone and the peripheral zone. The peripheral is the largest, and most prostate cancers and chronic prostatitis occur in this zone. The transition zone is the site of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

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Created: September 29, 2010
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Site last updated 18 September, 2014

  
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