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The PCRI Glossary: A Tool for Learning About PC


We hope that expanding your medical vocabulary will make you feel comfortable when communicating with your medical providers, attending medical meetings and reading material within the PCRI Web site. We invite you to suggest additions or corrections to the Glossary by e-mailing the PCRI at help@pcri.org words or terms that you feel should be included in the ongoing revision of the PCRI Glossary.

To Download the Glossary, click the link.



an approach to treatment planning that focuses on directing the radiation energy to the tumor target while sparing the surrounding normal tissues; see conformal therapy


detects high grade disease accurately and overlooks low grade disease, sparing unnecessary cancer diagnosis and unwarranted treatment; takes detailed, high resolution, cross-sectional images of the prostate gland; also measures size of prostate gland.


the enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT; a sex steroid and androgen hormone)

17,20 LYASE

an enzyme important in the adrenal androgen pathways that converts 17 alpha hydroxyprogesterone (steroid hormones) to androstenedione and also converts 17 alpha hydroxypregneneolone to DHEA




3-DIMENSIONAL CONFORMAL RADIATION THERAPY (3DCRT): an approach to treatment planning that focuses on directing the radiation energy to the tumor target while sparing the surrounding normal tissues; see conformal therapy


3T MULTIPARAMETRIC MRI: detects high grade disease accurately and overlooks low grade disease, sparing unnecessary cancer diagnosis and unwarranted treatment; takes detailed, high resolution, cross-sectional images of the prostate gland; also measures size of prostate gland.

5-ALPHA REDUCTASE (5AR): the enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT; a sex steroid and androgen hormone)


17,20 LYASE: an enzyme important in the adrenal androgen pathways that converts 17 alpha hydroxyprogesterone (steroid hormones) to androstenedione and also converts 17 alpha hydroxypregneneolone to DHEA



ABDOMEN: the part of the body below the ribs and above the pelvic bone that contains organs like the intestines, the liver, the kidneys, the stomach, the bladder, and, in men, the prostate

ABLATION: relating to the removal or destruction of tissue or a system; androgen ablation refers to blocking the effects of androgens by surgical or medical means

ACRONYM: an abbreviationword formed from the initial letters of a phrase or word name; e.g. see ARM


ADENOCARCINOMA: a form of cancer that develops from a malignant abnormality in the cells lining a glandular organ such as the prostate; almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas


ADRENAL ANDROGEN (AA): a male hormone produced by the adrenal glands; actually, the adrenal gland makes AA precursors such as DHEA and androstenedione that are metabolized to androgens within the prostate cell; AA may be used in some publications to indicate anti-androgens or arachidonic acid

ADJUVANT TREATMENT: an additional treatment used to increase the effectiveness of the primary therapy; radiation therapy is often used as an adjuvant treatment after a radical prostatectomy if the surgical margins are involved by prostate cancer


ADRENAL CORTICOTROPHIC HORMONE: a pituitary hormone that stimulates the outer portion of the adrenal glands to secrete various hormones including cortisol, DHEA, and androstenedione

ADRENAL GLANDS: located above the kidneys; they produce a variety of different hormones, including cortisol, adrenal androgens, and hormones important in blood pressure control and electrolyte balance

ADRENALECTOMY: the surgical removal of one or both adrenal glands

AGE-ADJUSTED: modified to take account of the age of an individual or group of individuals; for example, average normal PSA values can be adjusted according to age groupings of men; these are PSA levels that are considered “normal” based on the age of the man

Age-adjusted PSA “cutoff”
40-49 up to 2.5 ng/ml
50-59 up to 3.5
60-69 up to 4.5
70-79 up to 6.5


ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE (ALK PHOS): an enzyme in blood, bone, kidney, spleen, and lungs; used to monitor bone or liver metastasis when elevated

ALPROSTADIL: a prostaglandin that relaxes the smooth muscles of the penis, enhancing blood flow, and producing erection; first produced as Caverject®, an injectable Prostaglandin E1

ALPHA-BLOCKERS: pharmaceuticals that act on the prostate by relaxing certain types of muscle tissue; these pharmaceuticals are often used in the treatment of BPH; examples are Cardura® and Hytrin®


AMINOGLUTETHEMIDE (AG): a drug that blocks the production of adrenal hormones such as DHEA, androstenedione, and cortisol

ANALOG: a synthetic chemical or pharmaceutical that behaves like a normal chemical in the body, e.g., LHRH analogs such as Lupron® or Zoladex®

ANANDRON®: trade or brand name for Nilutamide, an anti-androgen; in the USA, this is called Nilandron®

ANDROCUR®: trade name for cyproterone, an anti-androgen with progestational activity; also called CPA for cyproterone acetate

ANDROGEN: a hormone which is responsible for male characteristics and the development and function of male sexual organs (e.g., testosterone) produced mainly by the testicles but also in the cortex of the adrenal glands; androgens have far reaching effects on blood formation, muscle and bone mass, cognitive function, emotional lability, skin and hair, etc.


ANDROGEN ABLATION THERAPY (AAT): see androgen deprivation therapy (ADT)

ANDROGEN-DEPENDENT PC (ADPC): prostate cancer cells that depend on androgens for continued cell growth and vitality

ANDROGEN DEPRIVATION THERAPY (ADT): a prostate cancer treatment that is based on blocking the amount or availability of androgen to the prostate cancer cell; includes diverse mechanisms such as surgical or medical castration, anti-androgens, 5 AR inhibitors, estrogenic compounds, agents that interfere with adrenal androgen production, agents that decrease sensitivity of the androgen receptor (AR); it also includes monotherapy, CHT with two drugs, and triple therapy or beyond

ANDROGEN DEPRIVATION SYNDROME (ADS): a constellation of findings associated with low levels of androgen associated with ADT

ANDROGEN-INDEPENDENT PROSTATE CANCER (AIPC): prostate cancer cells that do not depend on androgen for growth

ANDROGEN RECEPTOR (AR): A structural entity that is the site of interaction of a chemical substance called a ligand, like a lock and key; a docking site for a ligand

ANDROGEN RECEPTOR MUTATION (ARM): a mutation in the gene located on the androgen receptor that allows the anti-androgen to stimulate prostate cancer growth rather than block growth; a paradoxical effect usually occurring in about 30% of patients on long-term anti-androgen therapy in the setting of a rising PSA with a castrate testosterone level

ANDROSTENEDIONE: an adrenal androgen precursor that is transformed to testosterone by 3 beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (enzyme) within the prostate cell; testosterone can also be oxidized to androstenedione by 17 beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase

ANESTHETIC: a drug that produces general or local loss of physical sensations, particularly pain; a “spinal” is the injection of a local anesthetic into the area surrounding the spinal cord

ANEUPLOID: having an abnormal number of sets of chromosomes;  aneuploid cancer cells tend not to respond well to androgen deprivation therapy; aneuploidy refers to the state of being aneuploid; see also diploid

ANGIOGENESIS: the growth of new blood vessels; a characteristic of tumors; angiogenesis is a normal biologic process that occurs in both healthy and diseased states; “angiogenesis factor” or “tumor angiogenesis factor” refers to a substance that tumors produce in order to grow new blood vessels

ANTERIOR: the front; for example, the anterior of the prostate is the part of the prostate that faces forward

ANTI-ANDROGEN: a compound (usually a synthetic pharmaceutical) that blocks or otherwise interferes with the normal action of androgens at cellular receptor sites

ANTI-ANDROGEN WITHDRAWAL RESPONSE (AAWR): a decrease in PSA seen upon stopping treatment with an antiandrogen such as Flutamide or Casodex®; this occurs because the anti-androgen has induced a mutation in the androgen receptor (AR) which is allowing the anti-androgen to stimulate rather than inhibit prostate cancer growth

ANTIBIOTIC: a pharmaceutical that can kill certain types of bacteria

ANTIBODY: protein produced by the immune system as a defense against an invading or “foreign” material or substance (an antigen); for example, when you get a cold, your body produces antibodies to the cold virus

ANTICOAGULANT: a pharmaceutical that helps to stop the blood from clotting

ANTIGEN: “foreign” material introduced into the body (a virus or bacterium, for example) or other material which the immune system considers to be “foreign” because it is not part of the body’s normal biology (e.g., prostate cancer cells); a substance that elicits a cellular-level immune response or causes the formation of an antibody

ANTIGEN-PRESENTING CELL (APC): a type of cell that provokes an immune response from T-cells by binding foreign antigens to its own surface and then interacting with the T-cells. Also known as antigen processing cell

ANUS: the opening at the end of the rectum

APEX: the tip or bottom of the prostate, e.g., the part of the prostate farthest away from the bladder; the top of the prostate is called the base

APOPTOSIS: programmed cell death due to an alteration in a critical substance or chemical necessary for cell viability; the lack of male hormones causes this programmed cell death of androgen-dependent prostate cancer

ARACHIDONIC ACID: an omega-6 fatty acid that is shown to be a stimulator of prostate cancer growth; found in egg yolk, animal red meat, organ meats; has free-radical generating properties

AROMATASE: an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen (estradiol or estrone)

ASPIRATION: the use of suction to remove fluid or tissue, usually through a fine needle (e.g., aspiration biopsy)


ASYMPTOMATIC: having no recognizable symptoms of a particular disorder

AMINO TERMINAL FRAGMENT (ATF): highly active part of the uPA molecule

AMERICAN UROLOGICAL ASSOCIATION (AUA): the official society of American urologists

AUTOLOGOUS: one’s own; for example, autologous blood is a patient’s own blood which is removed prior to surgery in case a patient needs a transfusion during or after surgery

AZOTEMIA: elevation in blood nitrogen level due to dehydration or kidney dysfunction; in laboratory tests this manifests as elevation in blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and/or creatinine




B-MODE ACQUISITION AND TARGETING: an ultrasound evaluation of the prostate, localizing it prior to each and every RT therapy treatment; currently used in conjunction with IMRT and mechanically integrated into the treatment program

BASE: the base of the prostate is the wide part at the top of the prostate closest to the bladder

BASELINE PSA (bPSA): the PSA level before a new treatment has begun; used to establish efficacy of a therapy based on response of the PSA to the treatment; can also be used in principle with any other marker, radiologic imaging study or any finding that shows pathology relating to prostate cancer

BENIGN: relatively harmless; not cancerous; not malignant

BENIGN PROSTATIC HYPERPLASIA (BPH): a noncancerous condition of the prostate that results in the growth of both glandular and stromal (supporting connective) tumorous tissue, enlarging the prostate and obstructing urination; see prostatitis

BENIGN PROSTATIC HYPERTROPHY (BPH): similar to benign prostatic hyperplasia, but caused by an increase in the size of cells rather than the number of cells

BICALUTAMIDE: a nonsteroidal antiandrogen available in the USA and some European countries for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer; also known as Casodex®

BILATERAL: having or relating to two sides; for example, a bilateral orchiectomy is an operation in which both testicles are removed and a bilateral adrenalectomy is an operation in which both adrenal glands are removed

BIOPSY: sampling of tissue from a particular part of the body (e.g., the prostate) in order to check for abnormalities such as cancer; in the case of prostate cancer, biopsies are usually carried out under ultrasound guidance using a specially designed device known as a prostate biopsy gun; removed tissue is typically examined microscopically by a pathologist in order to make a precise diagnosis of the patient’s condition


BIOSYNTHESIS: The production of complex molecules within living organisms or cells

BLASTIC: having a dense appearance on a plain x-ray; associated with increased density of bone

involved by prostate cancer and a whiter appearance on an ordinary x-ray; prostate cancer bone metastases are usually blastic; breast cancer metastases are usually lytic (showing evidence of less bone density in areas of cancer)

BLOOD CHEMISTRY: measured concentrations of many chemicals in the blood; abnormal values can indicate spread of cancer or side effects of therapy

BLOOD COUNT: analysis of blood cells and platelets; abnormal values can indicate cancer in the bone or side effects of therapy


BLOOD UREA NITROGEN (BUN): a test which measures the amount of nitrogen in your blood that comes from the waste product urea.

BONE MINERAL DENSITY (BMD): bone mineral density; usually done by DEXA or qCT densitometry methods

BONE MARROW: soft tissue in bone cavities that produces blood cells

BONE RESORPTION MARKER (BRM): a laboratory test that quantifies the bone loss (resorption) occurring usually from ADT or prostate cancer; examples include Pyrilinks-D® (Dpd) and N-telopeptides

BONE SCAN: a technique more sensitive than conventional x-rays, it uses a radiolabeled agent to identify abnormal or cancerous growths within or attached to bone; in the case of prostate cancer, a bone scan is used to identify bony metastases which are definitive for cancer which has escaped from the prostate; metastases appear as “hot spots” on the film; however, the absence of hot spots does not prove the absence of tiny metastases

BOWEL PREPARATION: the cleaning of the bowels or intestines that is normal prior to abdominal surgery such as radical prostatectomy

BRACHYTHERAPY: A form of radiation therapy in which radioactive seeds or pellets which emit radiation are implanted within the prostate in order to destroy prostate cancer



CANCER: the growth of abnormal cells in the body in an uncontrolled manner; unlike benign tumors, these tend to invade surrounding tissues, and spread to distant sites of the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic system

CAPSULE: the fibrous tissue that acts as an outer lining of the prostate





CARCINOMA: a form of cancer that originates in tissues that line or cover a particular organ; see also adenocarcinoma

CASODEX®: brand or trade name of bicalutamide in the USA

CASTRATE: medical status of castration; castrate testosterone is defined by most physicians as less than 20 ng/ml

CASTRATION: the use of surgical or medical (chemical) techniques to eliminate testosterone produced by the testes

CATHETER: a hollow (usually flexible plastic) tube which can be used to drain fluids from or inject fluids into the body; in the case of prostate cancer, it is common for patients to have a transurethral catheter to drain urine for some time after treatment by surgery or some forms of radiation therapy

CARCINOEMBRYONIC ANTIGEN (CEA): a fetal antigen or protein that may be expressed by prostate cancer that is aggressive and often androgen-independent

CELL-MEDIATED IMMUNITY: immunity dependent upon T-cells’ recognition of an antigen and their subsequent destruction of cells bearing the antigen

CHROMOGRANIN A (CGA): a small cell prostate cancer or neuroendocrine cell marker; a progressive increase in CGA indicates an aggressive clone of prostate cancer cells that often metastasizes to nodes, liver, and lungs

CHEMOPREVENTION: the use of a pharmaceutical or other substance to prevent the development of cancer

CHEMOTHERAPY: the use of pharmaceuticals or other chemicals to kill cancer cells; in many cases chemotherapeutic agents kill not only cancer cells but also other cells in the body, which makes such agents potentially very dangerous

CHROMOSOME: a threadlike linear strand of DNA and associated proteins in the nucleus of cells that carry the genes and functions in the transmission of hereditary information


CLINICAL TARGET VOLUME: describes the extent of microscopic, non-imageable tumor spread.

CLINICAL TRIAL: a carefully planned experiment to evaluate a treatment or a medication (often a new pharmaceutical) for an unproven use; Phase I trials are very preliminary short-term trials involving a few patients to see if drugs have any activity or any serious side effects; Phase II trials may involve 20 to 50 patients and are designed to estimate the most active dose of a new drug and determine its side effects; Phase III trials involve many patients and compare a new therapy against the current standard or best available therapy

COENZYME Q10 (COQ10): important in cardiac function; a substance that energizes the mitochondria within the heart cells and allows them to function better; an antioxidant that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation

COLLIMATOR: a device used to define the size and shape of a radiation beam in radiation therapy treatment machines; a collimator typically consists of large blocks of heavy metals, such as steel or tungsten, moved by mechanical motors to define rectangular fields; see intensity-modulated radiation therapy and also multileaf collimator

COLOR-FLOW DOPPLER ULTRASOUND (CDUS): an ultrasound method that more clearly images

tumors by observing the Doppler shift in sound waves; high frequency sound waves bounce off of blood cells to determine blood flow; if tumor is present results will indicate so based on blood flow through tiny blood vessels characteristic of tumors.

COMBINATION HORMONE BLOCKADE (CHB): therapy usually involving an LHRH agonist and an anti-androgen; may involve other agents such as Proscar® or prolactin inhibitors such as Dostinex®; preferred term is ADT with number attached to show number of agents e.g. ADT3 (Flutamide, Lupron®, Proscar®) or ADT3 (FLP); also referred to as CHT, MAB, and TAB

COMBINED HORMONAL THERAPY (CHT): the use of more than one hormone in therapy; especially the use of LHRH analogs (e.g., Lupron®, Zoladex®) to block the production of testosterone by the testes, plus anti-androgens (e.g., Casodex® (bicalutamide), Eulexin® (flutamide), Anandron® (Nilutamide), or Androcur® (Cyproterone) to compete with DHT and with T (testosterone) for cell sites thereby depriving cancer cells of DHT and T needed for growth; also referred to as CHB, MAB, and TAB; the preferred term is ADT

COMPLETE ANDROGEN BLOCKADE (CAB): see combined hormonal therapy


COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT (CBC): blood panel including the white blood count (WBC), hematocrit (HCT) and the platelet count (PLT)

COMPLETE RESPONSE (CR): total disappearance of all evidence of disease using physical
examination, laboratory studies, and radiologic imaging; a criterion for evaluating the efficacy of a particular anticancer therapy; see also partial response

COMPLICATION: an unexpected or unwanted effect of a treatment, pharmaceutical or other procedure

COMPUTERIZED AXIAL TOMOGRAPHY (CAT) SCAN: is a method of combining images from

multiple x-rays under the control of a computer to produce cross-sectional or three-dimensional pictures of the internal organs which can be used to identify abnormalities; the CAT scan can identify prostate enlargement but is not always effective for assessing the stage of prostate cancer; the CAT scan is significantly more accurate at evaluating metastases of the lymph nodes or more distant soft tissue sites,

CONCORDANCE: the agreement in findings that support the accuracy of a particular investigation or treatment; concordance is a critical concept in studies to diagnose, stage, and treat prostate cancer

CONFORMAL THERAPY: the use of careful planning and delivery techniques designed to focus radiation on the areas of the prostate and surrounding tissue which need treatment and protect areas which do not need treatment; 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT) is a sophisticated form of this method

CONTRACTURE: scarring which can occur at the bladder neck after a radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy, and that results in narrowing of the passage between the bladder and the urethra; same as stricture

CORPORA CAVERNOSA: a part of a man’s penis that fills with blood when he is sexually excited, giving the organ the stiffness required for intercourse

CORPORA SPONGIOSUM: a mass of spongy tissue surrounding the male urethra ;  function of the corpus spongiosum in erection is to prevent the urethra from pinching closed

COWPER’S GLANDS: a pair of pea-sized glands that lie beneath the prostate gland that secrete an alkaline fluid that forms part of the semen; this fluid neutralizes the acidic environment of the urethra, thereby protecting the sperm; named after the English surgeon William Cowper (1660-1709)

CRYOABLATION: see cryosurgery

CRYOSURGERY: the use of liquid nitrogen probes to freeze a particular organ to extremely low

temperatures to kill the tissue, including any cancerous tissue; when used to treat prostate cancer, the cryoprobes are guided by transrectal ultrasound

CRYOTHERAPY: see cryosurgery

CYCLIN-DEPENDENT KINASE INHIBITOR (CDK-1): a regulator of cell growth; an enzyme inhibitor

CYPROTERONE: an anti-androgen with progestational activity

CYSTITIS: inflammation of the bladder that may be caused by infection or chemical injury or radiation; characterized by increased urinary frequency, discomfort on urination and often red blood cells, white blood cells and/or bacteria in the urine

CYSTOSCOPE: an instrument used by physicians to look inside the bladder and the urethra

CYSTOSCOPY: the use of a cystoscope to look inside the bladder and the urethra

CYTOCHROME P-450 DEPENDENT 14-DEMETHYLATION: an enzyme system that is important in the endocrine pathways of hormone production and activation

CYTOKINES: any of several regulatory proteins, such as the interleukins and lymphokines, that are released by cells of the immune system and act as intercellular mediators in the generation of an immune response

CYTOTOXIC EFFECTS: cell-killing effects



D1 OR D2 DISEASE: stage of cancer; see staging and Whitmore-Jewett Staging

DEBULKING: reduction of the volume of cancer by one of several techniques; most frequently used to imply surgical debulking

DENDRITIC CELLS (DC): cells that process antigens (proteins) and present them to immune lymphocytes called T cells, playing a major role in the initiation of the immune response against tumor and other types of abnormal cells; antigen presenting cells; e.g. Provenge® is an investigational therapy employing DC

DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID (DNA): the basic biologically active chemical that defines the physical development and growth of nearly all living organisms; a complex protein that is the carrier of geneticinformation.

DEOXYPYRIDINOLINE (DPD): (Pyrilinks-D®); a bone resorption marker reflecting breakdown of bone collagen

DIAGNOSIS (DX): the evaluation of signs, symptoms, and selected test results by a physician to determine the physical and biological causes and whether a specific disease or disorder is involved

DIETHYLSTILBESTROL: a female hormone commonly used intreatment of prostate cancer with activity against AIPC as well as ADPC

DIFFERENTIATION: how mature (developed) the cancer cells are in a tumor when viewed under the microscope; differentiated tumor cells resemble normal cells and grow at a slower rate than undifferentiated tumor cells, which lack the structure and function of normal cells and grow more aggressively; a method of grading the severity of disease

DIGITAL RECTAL EXAMINATION (DRE): the test in which a physician inserts a lubricated and gloved finger into the rectum to feel for abnormalities of the prostate and rectum

DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE (DHEA): an adrenal androgen precursor produced in the adrenal cortex and transformed into testosterone within prostate cells

DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE-SULFATE (DHEA-S): the sulfated form of dihydroepiandrosterone; sulfation is a chemical process that alters the molecule by adding a sulfur-type group; sulfation occurs in the liver; DHEA-S is a more reliable laboratory test than DHEA

DIHYDROTESTOSTERONE (DHT OR 5 ALPHA-DIHYDROTESTOSTERONE): a male hormone 5 times more potent than testosterone that is converted from testosterone within the prostate by 5-alpha reductase;

DIPLOID: having one complete set of normally paired chromosomes, i.e., a normal amount of DNA; diploid cancer cells tend to grow slowly and respond well to hormone therapy; a diploid number of chromosomes would equal 46, a haploid set would equal 23; see also haploid

DISTENSIBILITY: the ability to enlarge or distend

DIURNAL: pertaining to the day; having a cyclic nature involving the 24-hour day; prolactin levels are at their peak in the early morning–they have a diurnal variation; calcium utilization appears highest in the evening close to bedtime

DOSE VOLUME HISTOGRAM (DVH): a graph that displays the distribution of the absorbed dose in tissue resulting from the delivery of a particular treatment plan.

DOSIMETRY: relating to the doses of radiation employed in treating a tumor

DOUBLE-BLIND: a form of clinical trial in which neither the physician nor the patient knows the actual treatment which any individual patient is receiving; double-blind trials are a way of minimizing the effects of the personal opinions of patients and physicians on the results of the trial

DOUBLING TIME: the time that it takes a particular focus of cancer to double in size

DOWNSIZING: the use of hormonal or other forms of management to reduce the volume of prostate cancer in and/or around the prostate prior to attempted curative treatment

DOWNSTAGING: the use of hormonal or other forms of management in the attempt to lower the clinical stage of prostate cancer prior to attempted curative treatment (e.g., from stage T3a to stage T2b); this technique is highly controversial

DUAL ENERGY X-RAY ABSORPTIOMETRY (DEXA): a type of bone mineral density radiologic examination using x-ray absorption; see also qCT

DYSPLASIA: see prostatic intraepithelial (or intraductal) neoplasia PIN

DYSURIA: urination that is problematic or painful



EASTERN COOPERATIVE ONCOLOGY GROUP (ECOG): one of the clinical trials groups; also a measurement of patient level of activity and well-being

EDEMA: swelling or accumulation of fluid in some part of the body

EICOSAPENTAENOIC ACID (EPA): a fish oil supplement, an omega 3 fatty acid (having the first double bond at the carbon 3 position from the omega end of the molecule) that inhibits the delta 5 desaturase enzyme that converts DGLA to arachidonic acid

EJACULATION: the release of semen through the penis during orgasm; ejaculation may be termed “dry” if there is scanty or no fluid component to the ejaculate as a result of radiation therapy or surgery

EJACULATORY DUCTS: The tubular passages through which semen reaches the prostatic urethra during orgasm


ELECTROCARDIOGRAM (EKG): a test to examine electrical activity of the heart

EMCYT®: see estramustine phosphate

ENDOTHELIN-1 (ET-1): a prostate cell product that stimulates osteoblasts, acts as a vasoconstrictor and may be responsible for bone pain in metastatic prostate cancer; blockers of the receptor for ET-1 are in clinical trials and showing promise, e.g. Atrasentan

ENZYME: any of a group of chemical substances which are produced by living cells and which cause particular chemical reactions to happen while not being changed themselves


ENZYME-LINKED IMMUNOSORBENT ASSAY: a sensitive immunoassay that uses an enzyme

linked to an antibody or antigen as a marker for the detection of a specific protein, especially an antigen or antibody; often used as a diagnostic test to determine exposure to a particular infectious agent, such as the AIDS virus, by identifying antibodies present in a blood sample; see immunoassay


ENDOGENOUS: inherent naturally to the organism

ENDORECTAL MRI: MRI of the prostate done via a probe inserted into the rectum; may be combined with endorectal magnetic resonance spectroscopy (currently only being done at UCSF and Memorial Sloan Kettering)

EPIDERMAL GROWTH FACTOR (EGF): a growth factor that stimulates cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation

EPIDIDYMIS: tightly coiled, thin-walled tube that conducts sperm from the testes to the vas deferens and provides for the storage, transmission, and maturation of sperm; inflammation of the epididymis is called epididymitis

EPIGALLOCATECHIN GALLATE (EGCG)): the active ingredient of green tea that patients should check to gauge potency

EPITHELIAL CELL: in prostate cancer, the cells within the prostate that line the ducts and functionally secrete chemicals such as PSA into the bloodstream or into the duct openings or lumen


ESTRAMUSTINE PHOSPHATE (EMCYT®): a chemotherapeutic agent; a hybrid drug combination of nitrogen mustard and estrogen that disrupts cytoplasmic microtubules

ESTROGEN: a female hormone used in the treatment of prostate cancer

ESTROGEN RECEPTOR (ER): the docking site on the cell or in the cell for estrogen

EULEXIN®: the brand name of flutamide in the USA

EXPERIMENTAL: an unproven (or even untested) technique or procedure; note that certain

experimental treatments are commonly used in the management of prostate cancer

EXTENT OF DISEASE (EOD): one of the considerations when staging the bone scan; The use of EOD grade on initial bone scan is useful for prognostic prediction; based on work by Mark Soloway, MD

EXTERNAL BEAM RADIATION THERAPY (EBRT): a form of radiation therapy in which the radiation is delivered by a machine directed at the area to be radiated, as opposed to radiation given within the target tissue such as brachytherapy; includes conventional photons, protons, neutrons, or electrons; may be given conventionally or with 3D conformal techniques


EXTRACAPSULAR EXTENSION (ECE): when prostate cancer extends beyond the prostate capsule


FALSE NEGATIVE: an erroneous negative test result; for example, an imaging test that fails to show the presence of a cancer tumor, later found by biopsy to be present in the patient, is said to have returned a false negative result

FALSE POSITIVE: a positive test result mistakenly identifying a state or condition that does not in fact exist

FEULGEN STAIN: a histology stain used in microscopy to identify chromosomal material or DNA

FERRITIN: an iron-containing protein complex, found principally in the intestinal mucosa, spleen, and liver, that functions as the primary form of iron storage in the body

FIBROBLAST GROWTH FACTOR (FGF): growth factors involved in the proliferation and

differentiation of cells

FINASTERIDE: an inhibitor of the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, that stimulates the conversion of testosterone to DHT; used to treat BPH and prostate cancer

FLARE REACTION: a temporary increase in tumor growth and symptoms caused by LHRH agonists; can be mild to dangerous; may be prevented by taking an anti-androgen (Casodex®) several days before starting an LHRH agonist (Lupron® or Zoladex®) or by the use of an LHRH antagonist such as Abarelix (Plenaxis®)

FLOW CYTOMETRY: a measurement method that determines the fraction of cells that are diploid, tetraploid, aneuploid, etc.

FLUTAMIDE: an anti-androgen used in the palliative hormonal treatment of advanced prostate cancer and in the adjuvant and neoadjuvant hormonal treatment of earlier stages of prostate cancer; normal dosage is two capsules three times a day

FOLLICLE STIMULATING HORMONE (FSH): in the male, stimulates the Sertoli cells of the testicle to make sperm

FRACTION: the portion of a fractionated radiation treatment that is delivered in a single session

FREE PSA: PSA protein released into the blood that is not attached to other blood proteins; as opposed to a total PSA test which measures all PSA proteins in the blood, whether they’re “free” or attached; usually expressed as a percentage based on Free PSA divided by Total PSA times 100%; one study showed that men with Free PSA % > 25% had low risk of prostate cancer while those with <10% Free PSA % were likely to have prostate cancer

FREQUENCY: the need to urinate often

FROZEN SECTION: a technique in which removed tissue is frozen, cut into 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 such as a preliminary pathologic opinion of the presence or absence of prostate cancer (usually in the pelvic lymph nodes)

FUSION: combining two or more inputs of data so that they can be overlaid one upon another to provide a sense of agreement or concordance; fusion imaging studies such as ProstaScint-CT-PET are examples



G0G1 GROWTH PHASE: with G0 being the relatively dormant phase of the cell growth cycle, and G1 the phase just preceding DNA synthesis (S-phase)

G1 ARREST: arrest or halt the cell cycle at the stage of G1; the normal sequence is G1-S-G2-M


GANTRY: Radiation therapy hardware from which the linear accelerator delivers its energy; the MLC is attached to the gantry and modulates the radiation beam as it exits

GASTROINTESTINAL: related to the digestive system and/or the intestines

GENITAL SYSTEM: the biological system that, in males, includes the testicles, the vas deferens, the prostate, and the penis

GENITOURINARY SYSTEM (GU SYSTEM): In the male, pertaining to the organs comprising the genital and urinary system. This includes the testicles, penis, seminal vesicles, urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys

GENOME: the total genetic content contained in a haploid set of chromosomes in single or multi-celled organisms, in a single chromosome in bacteria, or in the DNA or RNA of viruses; an organism’s genetic material

GENOMIC INSTABILITY: the instability of genetic material as a result of destructive chemical processes that lead to mutation

GLAND: a structure or organ that produces a substance which is used in another part of the body

GLAND VOLUME: the size in cubic centimeters or grams of the prostate gland

GLEASON SCORE: a widely used method for classifying the cellular differentiation of cancerous tissues; the less the cancerous cells appear like normal cells, the more malignant the cancer; two numbers, each from 1–5, are assigned successively to the two most predominant patterns of differentiation present in the examined tissue sample and are added together to produce the Gleason score; high numbers indicate poor differentiation and therefore cancer; named after Dr. Gleason who developed the grading system


GOSERELIN ACETATE (ZOLADEX®): a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH)  analog used in the hormonal treatment of advanced prostate cancer and in the adjuvant and neoadjuvant hormonal treatment of earlier stages of prostate cancer

GRADE: a means of describing the potential degree of severity of a cancer based on the appearance of cancer cells under a microscope; the Gleason grade is broken down into the primary and secondary grades; see Gleason Score

GRAY (GY): the SI (Systeme International) unit of absorbed radiation dose: 1 Gy = 1 joule/kg = 100 rads

GREEN TEA POLYPHENOLS (GTP): the active substances within green tea


GROSS TUMOR VOLUME (GTV): position and extent of the primary tumor.

GYNECOMASTIA: enlargement or tenderness of the male breasts or nipples; a possible side effect of hormonal therapy which leads to increased levels of estrogens as seen with DES, PC SPES, monotherapy with anti-androgens (Flutamide or Casodex®) or the combination of the latter with Proscar®




H-2 BLOCKERS: blockers of histamine, a substance responsible for gastric acidity among other functions

HAPLOID: having the same number of sets of chromosomes as a germ cell (sperm or egg) or half as many as a somatic cell (all remaining cells having to do with the body); having a single set of chromosomes; see also diploid

HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATION (HMO): an insurance company that provides medical

care to people

HEMATOSPERMIA: the occurrence of blood in the semen

HEMATURIA: the occurrence of blood in the urine

HEREDITY: the historical distribution of biological characteristics through a group of related

individuals via their DNA

HEREDITARY: inherited from one’s parents and earlier generations

HETEROGENEOUS (HETEROGENEITY): non-uniform; composed of mixtures of different kinds; in reference to tumors meaning composed of different clones of cells

HIGH DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN CHOLESTEROL (HDL): a beneficial cholesterol composed of a high proportion of protein (with little triglyceride and cholesterol) and that is associated with decreased probability of developing atherosclerosis

HIGH-DOSE KETOCONAZOLE (HDK): trade name is Nizoral®    


HIGH MOLECULAR WEIGHT uPA: urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) system involved in cancer progression

HISTOLOGY: the study of the appearance and behavior of tissue, usually carried out under a microscope by a pathologist (a physician) or a histologist (not necessarily a physician)

HOMOGENEOUS (HOMOGENEITY): uniform; composed of the same element; in reference to a tumor cell population, meaning that the cells are of the same clone in contrast to a mixed cell population that would exhibit heterogeneity or be heterogeneous

HORMONE: biologically active chemicals that are responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics

HORMONE REFRACTORY PC (HRPC): a loosely used term that really should apply to progressive prostate cancer in the setting of a testosterone level less than 20 ng/dl and when an androgen receptor mutation has been excluded; the preferred term is androgen-independent prostate cancer

HORMONE THERAPY: the use of hormones, hormone analogs, and certain surgical techniques to treat disease (in this case prostate cancer) either on their own or in combination with other hormones or in combination with other methods of treatment; 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: the sudden sensation of warmth in the face, neck, and upper body; a side effect of many forms of hormone therapy

HYDROXYSTEROID DEHYDROGENASE (HSD): the enzyme that oxidizes or reduces testosterone to androstenedione or vice versa

HYDROCORTISONE (HC): a steroid compound synthesized in the adrenal cortex and vital to survival

HYPERCALCEMIA: abnormally high concentrations of calcium in the blood, indicating leaching of

calcium from bone (tumors raise serum calcium levels by destroying bone or by releasing PTH or a PTH-like substance, osteoclast-activating factor, prostaglandins, and perhaps, a vitamin D-like sterol). Symptoms of hypercalcemia may include drowsiness, lethargy, headaches, depression or apathy, irritability, confusion; weakness, muscle flaccidity, bone pain, pathologic fractures; signs of heart block, cardiac arrest in systole, hypertension; anorexia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, dehydration, polydipsia; renal polyuria, flank pain, and eventually, azotemia (excess of urea or other nitrogenous substances in the blood)

HYPERPLASIA: enlargement of an organ or tissue because of an increase in the number of cells in that organ or tissue; see also BPH

HYPERSENSITIVE PSA (ULTRASENSITIVE PSA): a laboratory assay for PSA that is more sensitive to detection of low levels of PSA than a standard assay; these assays allow for earlier detection of recurrence and can distinguish an excellent response to ADT from a mediocre response; DPC Immulite 3rd generation and Tosoh are two examples of hypersensitive PSA assays available

HYPERTHERMIA: treatment that uses heat; for example, heat produced by microwave radiation



IMAGING: a radiology technique or method allowing a physician to see something that would not normally be visible

IMMULITE: laboratory console manufactured by Diagnostics Products Company (DPC) in Los Angeles that comprehensively evaluates the endocrine axis and biomarkers essential to prostate cancer management

IMMUNE SYSTEM: the biological system which protects a person or animal from the effects of foreign materials such as bacteria, viruses, cancer cells, and other things which might make that person or animal sick

IMMUNOASSAY: a laboratory technique that makes use of the binding between an antigen and its homologous antibody in order to identify and quantify the specific antigen or antibody in a sample; a procedure for detecting or measuring specific proteins or other substances through their properties as antigens or antibodies.

IMPLANT: a device that is inserted into the body; e.g., a tiny container of radioactive material inserted in or near a tumor; also a device inserted in order to replace or substitute for an ability which has been lost; for example, a penile implant is a device which can be surgically inserted into the penis to provide rigidity for intercourse

IMPOTENCE: the inability to have or to maintain an erection; also known as erectile dysfunction (ED)

INCIDENTAL: insignificant or irrelevant; for example, incidental prostate cancer (also known as latent prostate cancer) is a form of prostate cancer which is of no clinical significance to the patient in whom it is discovered

INCONTINENCE: (urinary incontinence) 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 inability to voluntarily exercise control over the sphincters of the bladder neck and urethra, resulting in total loss of retentive ability

INDICATION: the approved clinical application of a pharmaceutical

INFLAMMATION: any form of swelling or pain or irritation

INFORMED CONSENT: permission to proceed given by a patient after being fully informed of the

purposes and potential consequences of a medical procedure

INSULIN GROWTH FACTOR 1 (IGF-1): a growth factor that stimulates prostate cancer cell growth and osteoblast growth

INSULIN GROWTH FACTOR BINDING PROTEIN 3 (IGFBP-3): a tumor suppressor gene that decreases as prostate cancer progresses from benign to metastatic


INTENSITY-MODULATED RADIATION THERAPY (IMRT): an approach to radiation delivery allowing the treatment team to specify the tumor target dose and the amount of radiation allowable to the nearby tissues, and uses sophisticated computer planning to arrive at acceptable equations; sophisticated hardware is also incorporated into this planning that allows the radiation intensity to be modulated up or down as the delivery system rotates around the patient

INTERFERON: a body protein that affects antibody production and can modulate (regulate) the immune system

INTERLEUKIN (IL): any of various compounds of low molecular weight that are produced by lymphocytes, macrophages, and monocytes and that function especially in regulation of the immune system and cell-mediated immunity

INTERLEUKIN 1 (IL-1): a cell product involved in the immune response (cytokine) which facilitates osteoblast growth among its many functions; see Insights vol. 2, no. 4 for a more detailed description with illustrations

INTERLEUKIN 6 (IL-6): a cytokine that stimulates osteoclast precursors and mature osteoclasts among its many functions; see Insights vol. 2, no. 4 for a more detailed description with illustrations

INTERMITTENT ANDROGEN DEPRIVATION (IAD): ADT that stops testosterone lowering therapy with the intent to allow the patient to recover from symptoms of ADS as testosterone levels recover to normal; same as intermittent hormonal therapy or intermittent androgen suppression

INTERMITTENT ANDROGEN SUPPRESSION: see intermittent androgen deprivation

INTERMITTENT HORMONAL THERAPY (IHT): see intermittent androgen deprivation

INTERSTITIAL: within a particular organ; for example, interstitial prostate radiation therapy is


radiation therapy applied within the prostate using implanted radioactive pellets or seeds; see also brachytherapy

INTRAVENOUS: into a vein

INTRAVENOUS PYELOGRAM (IVP): a procedure that introduces an x-ray absorbing dye into the

urinary tract in order to allow the physician a superior image of the tract by taking an x-ray

INVASIVE: requiring an incision or the insertion of an instrument or substance into the body

INVERSE PLANNING: Treatment planning for radiation therapy in which various aspects of the

treatment plan are generated by a computer in order to achieve the dose distribution prescribed by a physician

INVESTIGATIONAL: a drug or procedure being tested in clinical trials in seeking FDA approval


ISOCENTER: the center of rotation of a treatment arc in radiation therapy

ISODOSE CONTOUR: a two or three-dimensional shape that contains the volume receiving a dose greater than or equal to a specified amount

ISODOSE LINE: a two-dimensional line that circumscribes an area receiving a dose greater than or equal to a specified amount

ITERATIONS: repeated series of steps, performed either by the computer or by the user, implemented to develop a treatment plan



KEGEL EXERCISES: a set of exercises designed to improve the strength of the muscles used in urinating

KIDNEY: one of a pair of organs whose primary function is to filter the fluids passing through the body



LAPAROSCOPY: a technique that allows the physician to observe internal organs directly through a piece of optical equipment inserted directly into the body through a small surgical incision

LATENT: insignificant or irrelevant; for example, latent prostate cancer (also known as incidental prostate cancer) is a form of prostate cancer which is of no clinical significance to the patient in whom it is discovered

LEUPROLIDE ACETATE: a LHRH analog; trade name is Lupron®


LEYDIG CELLS: cell population within the testicles that produces testosterone; the other main cell population are the Sertoli cells that make sperm

LHRH ANALOGS (or AGONISTS): synthetic compounds that mimic natural LHRH but then shut down LH production after continuous exposure; chemically similar to luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) but sufficiently different and suppress testicular production of testosterone by binding to the LHRH receptor in the pituitary gland; used in the hormonal treatment of advanced prostate cancer and in the adjuvant and neoadjuvant hormonal treatment of earlier stages of prostate cancer; leuprolide acetate (Lupron®) is an example


LHRH ANTAGONIST: an agent that blocks the LHRH receptor by pure antagonism without the initial release of LH seen with LHRH agonists; Abarelix (Plenaxis®) is an example

LIBIDO: interest in sexual activity

LIGAND: an ion, a molecule, or a molecular group that binds to another chemical entity at a receptor to form a larger complex

LINEAR ACCELERATOR: a type of high energy x-ray machine that generates radiation fields for external beam radiation therapy. A linear accelerator is typically mounted with a collimator and/or a multileaf collimator in a gantry that revolves vertically around a treatment couch

LIPO-STEROLIC EXTRACT OF SERENOA REPENS (LSERr): the lipid extracted portion of saw palmetto (an extract of the fruit of Serenoa repens. It is rich in fatty acids and phytosterols.)


LIPOPROTEIN: any of a group of soluble proteins that combine with and transport fat or other lipids in the blood plasma.

LNCaP: a line of human prostate cancer cells used in laboratory studies; this cell line is hormonally dependent

LOBE: one of the two sides of an organ that has two sides or halves (e.g., the prostate or the brain)

LOCALIZED: restricted to a well-defined area

LOW DENSITY LIPOPROTEIN (LDH) CHOLESTEROL: a lipoprotein of blood plasma that is composed of a moderate proportion of protein with little triglyceride and a high proportion of cholesterol and that is associated with increased probability of developing atherosclerosis

LUPRON®: the US trade or brand name of leuprolide acetate, a LHRH agonist

LUTEINIZING HORMONE (LH): a pituitary hormone that stimulates the Leydig cells of the testicles to make the male hormone testosterone

LUTEINIZING HORMONE RELEASING HORMONE (LHRH): a hormone responsible for stimulating the production of testosterone in the body by interacting with the LHRH receptor to release luteinizing hormone which in turn stimulates cells in the testicles (Leydig cells) to make testosterone; also known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)


LYMPH (ALSO LYMPHATIC FLUID): the clear fluid in which all of the cells in the body are constantly bathed; carries cells that help fight infection

LYMPH NODES: the small glands which occur throughout the body and which filter the clear fluid known as lymph or lymphatic fluid; lymph nodes filter out bacteria and other toxins, as well as cancer cells

LYMPHADENECTOMY: the removal and microscopic examination of selected lymph nodes, a common site of metastatic disease with prostate cancer; this can be done during surgery prior to the removal of the prostate gland; a “laparoscopic lymphadenectomy” is an alternative using a small incision, requiring only an overnight stay in the hospital; also known as a pelvic lymph node dissection

LYMPHATIC SYSTEM: the tissue and organs that produce, store, and carry cells that fight infection; includes bone marrow, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes, and channels that carry lymph fluid



MAGNETIC RESONANCE: absorption of specific frequencies of radio and microwave radiation by atoms placed in a strong magnetic field

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI): the use of magnetic resonance with atoms in body tissues to produce distinct cross-sectional, and even three-dimensional images of internal organs; MRI is primarily of use in staging biopsy-proven prostate cancer

MAGNETIC RESONANCE SPECTROSCOPY (MRS): an imaging approach to measure biochemical changes in the brain, particularly to identify tumors

MALIGNANCY: a growth or tumor composed of cancerous cells

MALIGNANT: cancerous; tending to become progressively worse and to result in death; having the invasive and metastatic (spreading) properties of cancer


MARGIN: normally used to mean the “surgical margin”, which is the outer edge of the tissue removed during surgery; if the surgical margin shows no sign of cancer (“negative margins”), then the prognosis is good

MATRIX METALLOPROTEASE 2 (MMP-2): prostate cancer cell product involved in angiogenesis



MCF-7: human breast cancer cell line

MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST: a doctor primarily trained in the use of medicines (rather than surgery) to treat, diagnose, and prevent cancer

METASTASIS: (plural, METASTASES) a secondary tumor formed as a result of a cancer cell or cells from the primary tumor site (e.g., the prostate) traveling through the body to a new site and then growing there

METASTASIZE: spread of a malignant tumor to other parts of the body

METASTATIC: having the characteristics of a secondary tumor

METASTATIC WORKUP: a group of tests, including physical examination, bone scans, x-rays, other imaging studies, and blood tests to ascertain whether cancer has metastasized

METASTRON®: the brand name of strontium-89, a radioactive isotope used in the treatment of bone pain from metastatic prostate cancer

MICROGRAM (MCG or µG ): a unit of mass equal to one thousandth (10-3) of a milligram or one millionth (10-6) of a gram

MISSTAGING: the assignment of an incorrect clinical stage at initial diagnosis because of the difficulty of assessing the available information with accuracy

MODIFIED CITRUS PECTIN (MCP): a substance that is able to interfere with prostate cancer growth by preventing cell-to-cell interaction and adhesiveness; It does soby binding to a carbohydrate substance called galectin-3 found on the surface of tumor cells

MONOCLONAL: formed from a single group of identical cells

MORBIDITY: unhealthy consequences and complications resulting from treatment

MUCOSA: superficial lining cells involving body cavities like the mouth, rectum, bladder; a membrane

lining all body passages that communicate with the air, such as the respiratory and alimentary tracts, and having cells and associated glands that secrete mucus

MULTILEAF COLLIMATOR (MLC): A type of collimator that can define irregularly shaped radiation fields. An MLC has two rows of narrow metal blocks (leaves) that can be independently driven in or out of the radiation beam from opposite sides under computer control

MULTILEAF INTENSITY-MODULATING COLLIMATOR (MIMiC): a multileaf collimator designed specifically for intensity modulated radiotherapy. The MIMiC treats two slices, each 1 or 2 cm thick, with a fan beam of radiation, when the linear accelerator gantry rotates through an arc around the patient. The patient couch is moved to treat adjacent slices if the target is too large to treat with a single arc; see tomotherapy



NEGATIVE: the term used to describe a test result which does not show the presence of the substance or material being tested for; for example, a bone scan with no sign of bone metastases is negative

NEOADJUVANT: the use of a different kind of therapy before the use of the primary therapy, e.g. the use of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) prior to radiation therapy (RT) of prostate cancer or the use of chemotherapy before surgery for breast cancer

NEOADJUVANT HORMONE BLOCKADE (NHB): use of androgen deprivation therapy prior to other therapies such as radiation therapy, surgery, orchemotherapy to reduce tumor volume and/or prostate gland volume. The goal is to allow these other therapies to work better; also called neoadjuvant hormonal therapy (NHT)

NEOPLASIA: the growth of cells under conditions that would tend to prevent the development of normal tissue (e.g., a cancer)

NERVE RADICLES: small nerve roots that are seen microscopically within specific tissue, like the prostate

NERVE-SPARING: term used to describe a type of prostatectomy in which the surgeon saves the nerves that affect sexual and related functions


NEUROENDOCRINE: of or relating to the interactions between the nervous and endocrine systems, especially in relation to hormones.

NEURON-SPECIFIC ENOLASE (NSE): a neuroendocrine marker; see chromogranin A

NILUTAMIDE (NILANDRON®): a non-steroidal anti-androgen

NOCTURIA: the need to urinate frequently at night

NON-INVASIVE: not requiring any incision or the insertion of an instrument or substance into the body



ONCOLOGIST: a physician who specializes in the treatment of various types of cancer

ONCOLOGY: the branch of medical science dealing with the prevention, treatment, and diagnosis of cancer and tumors; onco- means “tumor” 

ONCOLYTIC VIRUS: a virus that causes death of a tumor cell

ORCHIECTOMY (or ORCHIDECTOMY): the surgical removal of the testicles; surgical castration

ORGAN: a group of tissues that work in concert to carry out a specific set of functions (e.g., the heart or the lungs or the prostate)

ORGAN-CONFINED DISEASE (OCD): prostate cancer that is apparently confined to the prostate

clinically or pathologically; not going beyond the confines of the prostatic capsule

ORNITHINE DECARBOXYLASE (ODC): an enzyme essential for cell growth but also promotes growth of cancer cells

OSTEOBLAST: cell that forms bone

OSTEOCLAST: cell that breaks down bone; osteoclasts are in bone tissue and resorb bone leading to bone loss (osteopenia or osteoporosis)

OSTEOLYSIS: destruction of bone


OSTEOPENIA: a reduction in the bone density that is more than one standard deviation from the normal bone density; using the T score it is T= -1.0 down to T= -2.4; once the T score is lower than -2.4, the patient is defined as having osteoporosis

OSTEOPOROSIS: a reduction in bone density resulting in a T score of -2.5 or lower; a loss of bone due to increased osteoclastic activity leading to bone resorption

OVERSTAGING: the assignment of an overly high clinical stage at initial diagnosis because of the difficulty of assessing the available information with accuracy (e.g., stage T3b as opposed to stage T2b)



PALLIATIVE: describes a therapy given in order to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life, but does not cure the disease

PALPABLE: able to be felt during a physical examination; in prostate cancer, this refers to some form of abnormality of the prostate which can be felt during a digital rectal examination

PARATHYROID HORMONE (PTH): one of the principal calcium-regulating hormones in the body

PARATHYROID HORMONE-RELATED PROTEIN (PRHrP): a protein involved in osteoblast

stimulation; a product also of the prostate cancer cell elaborated by neuroendocrine cells that make chromogranin A (CGA)

PARTIAL RESPONSE (PR): a 50% or greater decline in parameters that are being used to measure anti-cancer activity; parameters include abnormalities involving physical exam findings, lab and radiologic studies; also see complete response (CR)

PARTIN TABLES: tables used to predict the probability that the prostate cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or seminal vesicles, penetrated the capsule, or remains confined to the prostate; developed by a group of scientists at the Brady Institute for Urology at Johns Hopkins University, based on results of the PSA, clinical stage, and Gleason score involving thousands of men with prostate cancer

PATHOLOGIST: a physician who specializes in the examination of tissues and blood samples to help decide what diseases are present and how they should be treated

PC-3: human prostate cancer cell line that is androgen-independent

PELVIS: the part of the skeleton that joins the lower limbs of the body together

PENILE: of the penis

PERCUTANEOUS: through the skin

PERINEAL: of the perineum

PERINEUM: the area of the body between the scrotum and the rectum; a perineal procedure uses this area as the point of entry into the body

PERIPHERAL: outside the central region

PERINEURAL INVASION: prostate cancer invading the nerve sheath surrounding the nerves that enter the prostate

PERIPROSTATIC: pertaining to the soft tissues immediately adjacent to the prostate

PHYSICIAN DATA QUERY (PDQ): a NCI supported database available to physicians, containing

current information on standard cancer treatments and ongoing clinical trials


PITUITARY HORMONE: Hormones from the pituitary gland, a small gland at the base of the brain. Hormones secreted by the anterior pituitary influence growth, sexual development, skin pigmentation, thyroid function, and adrenocortical function.

PLACEBO: a form of safe but non-active treatment frequently used as a basis for comparison with

pharmaceuticals in research studies

PLANNING TARGET VOLUME (PTV): equivalent to the clinical target volume plus a margin to

account for uncertainty in immobilization and localization of the patient anatomy during treatment

PLATELET-DERIVED GROWTH FACTOR (PDGF): an important factor in tumor growth involving angiogenesis

PLOIDY: the number of sets of chromosomes in a cell; see also diploid and aneuploid

POSITIVE: the term used to describe a test result which shows the presence of the substance or material being tested for; a bone scan finding signs of bone metastases would be positive

POSITRON EMISSION TOMOGRAPHY (PET) SCAN: imaging using a radioactive isotope that is taken up by tumor tissue to identify tumor activity

POSTERIOR: the rear; for example, the posterior of the prostate is the part of the prostate that faces a man’s back

PROCTITIS: inflammation of the rectum; may be associated with radiation therapy for prostate cancer

PROGESTERONE: used in the treatment of hot flashes in men having suppressions in LH and

testosterone; a specific steroid hormone in the family of progestins secreted by the corpus luteum of the ovary and by the placenta, that acts to prepare the uterus for implantation of the fertilized ovum, to maintain pregnancy, and to promote development of the mammary glands; many tumor cells contain progesterone receptors; examples of a progestin are Megace® or Depo-Provera®

PROGESTERONE RECEPTOR (PR): the docking site on a cell that interacts with progestins

PROGNOSIS:  chance of recovery; the patient’s potential clinical outlook based on the status and probable course of his disease

PROGRESSION: continuing growth or regrowth of cancer


PROLACTIN (PRL): a trophic hormone produced by the pituitary that increases androgen receptors, increases sensitivity to androgens & regulates production & secretion of citrate

PROLIFERATING CELL NUCLEAR ANTIGEN (PCNA): an index of cell division or proliferation

PROSCAR®: brand name of finasteride, a 5AR inhibitor

PROSTAGLANDIN: hormone-like substances that stimulate target cells into action; they differ from hormones in that they act locally, near their site of synthesis, and they are metabolized very rapidly; any of various oxygenated, unsaturated, cyclic fatty acids of animals that have a variety of hormone-like actions (as in controlling blood pressure or smooth muscle contraction)

PROSTAGLANDIN E2 (PGE2-+): an unfavorable metabolite of arachidonic acid

PROSTASCINT: a monoclonal antibody test directed against the prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA); seems to focus on androgen-independent tumor tissue

PROSTATE: the gland surrounding the urethra and immediately below the bladder in males

PROSTATE-SPECIFIC ANTIGEN (PSA): a protein secreted by the epithelial cells of the prostate

gland including cancer cells; an elevated level in the blood indicates an abnormal condition of the prostate gland, either benign or malignant; it is used to detect potential problems in the prostate gland and tofollow the progress of PCA therapy (see screening)

PROSTATE-SPECIFIC MEMBRANE (PSM): a membrane that surrounds the protoplasm (cytoplasm) of prostate cells

PROSTATE-SPECIFIC MEMBRANE ANTIGEN (PSMA): a protein seen in many types of prostate

tissues, used for diagnostic purposes but also being researched for possible therapeutic purposes

PROSTATECTOMY: surgical removal of part or all of the prostate gland

PROSTATIC ACID PHOSPHATASE (PAP): an enzyme secreted by prostate cells associated with a higher probability of disease outside the prostate when levels are 3.0 or higher; PAP elevations connote that the disease is not an organ-confined disease

PROSTATIC INTRAEPITHELIAL (or INTRADUCTAL) NEOPLASIA: a pathologically identifiable condition believed to be a possible precursor of prostate cancer; also known more simply as dysplasia by many physicians; broken down into high-grade PIN (PIN 2 or PIN 3) and low-grade PIN (PIN 1); high-grade PIN is associated with having prostate cancer

PROSTATITIS: infection or inflammation of the prostate gland treatable by medication and/or manipulation

PROSTHESIS: A manufactured device used to replace a normal body part or function

PROTOCOL: a precise set of methods by which a research study is to be carried out

PROTON PUMP INHIBITORS (PPI): drugs that reduce gastric acidity by inhibiting the proton pump within the gastric lining cells; examples include Prilosec® and Nexium®

PSA DENSITY (PSAD): the amount of PSA per unit volume of the prostate gland, reflecting tumor density within the prostate; the quotient of PSA divided by gland volume

PSA NADIR (PSAN): the lowest PSA value reached during or after a particular treatment; a progressive rise after a PSA nadir has been reached usually indicates biologic activity of prostate cancer

PSA RELAPSE-FREE SURVIVAL: survival of the prostate cancer patient that demonstrates no evidence of biochemical relapse (a rising PSA as seen in 3 consecutive determinations); also called biochemical relapse-free survival (bRFS)

PUBMED: an outstanding medical search website on the internet

PYRIDINOLINE (PD): a bone resorption marker; a bone collagen breakdown product

PYRILINKS-D® (DPD): a urine test that quantitates bone resorption; the second voided urine specimen is ideal to use; other markers of bone resorption are ICTP and N-telopeptide; deoxypyridinoline



QUANTITATIVE COMPUTED TOMOGRAPHY (QCT) BONE DENSITOMETRY: A medical technique that measures bone mineral density; an alternate way to evaluate bone density besides the DEXA scan;

QUALITY OF LIFE: an evaluation of health status relative to the patient’s age, expectations, and physical and mental capabilities



RADIATION CYSTITIS: inflammation of the bladder lining due to the ionizing effects of radiation therapy

RADIATION ONCOLOGIST: a physician specialized in the treatment of cancers with different types of radiation

RADIATION PROCTITIS: inflammation of the rectal mucosa lining due to the ionizing effects of

radiation therapy

RADIATION THERAPY (RT): the use of x-rays and other forms of radiation to destroy malignant cancer cells and tissue

RADICAL: (in a surgical sense) directed at the cause of a disease; see radical prostatectomy

RADICAL PROSTATECTOMY (RP): an operation to remove the entire prostate gland and seminal vesicles with the intent to cure the problem believed to be caused by or within the prostate

RADIO SENSITIVITY: the degree to which a type of cancer responds to radiation therapy

RADIOISOTOPE: a type of atom (or a chemical which is made with a type of atom) that emits radioactivity

RADIOTHERAPY: see radiation therapy

RANDOMIZED: a research study which assigns patients to different treatments in a random manner to better compare results by preventing biases and confounding

RECEPTOR: a docking site which interacts with a ligand; receptors may be on the cell membrane or within the cell cytoplasm or nucleus; estrogen receptors and androgen receptors are examples; all cells have multiple receptors

RECTAL EXAM: see digital rectal exam

RECTUM: the final part of the intestines that ends at the anus

RECURRENCE: the reappearance of disease; this can be manifested clinically as findings on the physical examination (e.g. DRE) or as a laboratory recurrence only (e.g. rise in PSA)

REFRACTORY: resistant to therapy; e.g., hormone refractory prostate cancer is resistant to forms of treatment involving hormone manipulation

REGRESSION: reduction in the size of a single tumor or reduction in the number and/or size of several tumors

REMISSION: the real or apparent disappearance of some or all or the signs and symptoms of cancer; the period (temporary or permanent) during which a disease remains under control, without progressing; even complete remission does not necessarily indicate cure

RESECTION: surgical removal

RESECTOSCOPE: instrument inserted through the urethra and used by a urologist to cut out tissue (usually from the prostate) while the physician can actually see precisely where he is cutting

RESISTANCE: medically, a patient’s ability to fight off a disease as a result of the effectiveness of the patient’s immune system

RESORPTION: loss of bone through increased breakdown via osteoclasts or other mechanism causing a reduction in bone mass

RESPONSE: a decrease in disease that occurs because of treatment; divided into complete response or partial response

RETENTION: difficulty in initiation of urination or the inability to completely empty the bladder

RETROPUBIC PROSTATECTOMY: surgical removal of the prostate through an incision in the abdomen above the pubic bones

REVERSE TRANSCRIPTASE-POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION (RT-PCR): a technique which allows a physician to search for tiny quantities of a protein, such as PSA, in the blood or other body fluids and tissues; see RT-PCR PSA

RISK: the chance or probability that a particular event will or will not happen

RT-PCR PSA: a blood test that detects micrometastatic cells circulating in the blood stream; may be useful as a screening tool to help avoid unnecessary, invasive treatments (RP, RT, etc.) on patients with metastasized prostate cancer



SALVAGE: a procedure intended to “rescue” a patient following the failure of a prior treatment; for example, a salvage prostatectomy would be the surgical removal of the prostate after the failure of prior radiation therapy or cryosurgery

SCROTUM: the pouch of skin containing a man’s testicles

SCREENING: evaluating populations of people to diagnose disease early

SECONDARY TO: derived from or consequent to a primary event or disease

SEED IMPLANTATION (SI): insertion of radioactive seeds, usually iodine-125 or palladium-103, into the prostate tissue to destroy prostate cancer

SELECTIVE ANDROGEN RECEPTOR MODULATOR (SARM): a drug that selectively inhibits androgen receptors of a specific tissue(s) while allowing the normal interaction of the androgen with androgen receptors at other sites; see also selective estrogen receptor modulator

SELECTIVE ESTROGEN RECEPTOR MODULATOR (SERM): a drug that selectively blocks one

estrogen receptor (ER) but allows the other receptors at specific sites to function normally with estrogen; Raloxifene® is an example of a SERM–it blocks the ER in the breast and uterine tissue but allows the ER in bone tissue to be operative

SELENIUM: a relatively rare nonmetallic element found in small quantities in food in, and that has some effect in prevention of prostate cancer

SEMEN: the whitish, opaque fluid emitted by a male at ejaculation

SEMINAL: related to the semen; e.g. seminal vesicles

SEMINAL VESICLES (SV): glandular structures located above and behind the prostate that secrete and store seminal fluid; the seminal vesicles connect with the ejaculatory ducts; the seminal fluid contains nutrients for the sperm that improves their viability and mobility

SENSITIVITY: the probability that a diagnostic test can correctly identify the presence of a particular disease, assuming the proper conduct of the test; specifically, the number of true positive results divided by the sum of the true positive results and the false negative results; see also specificity

SERUM GLUTAMIC-OXALOACETIC TRANSAMINASE (SGOT): a liver cell enzyme; elevation of SGOT is seen as an effect of liver cell injury by drugs, alcohol, and viruses

SERUM GLUTAMIC-PYRUVIC TRANSAMINASE (SGPT): a liver cell enzyme; elevation of SGPT is seen as an effect of liver cell injury by drugs, alcohol, and viruses

SEXTANT: having six parts; thus, a sextant biopsy is a biopsy that takes six samples

SIDE-EFFECT: a reaction to a medication or treatment (most commonly used to mean an unnecessary or undesirable effect)

SIGN: physical changes which can be observed as a consequence of an illness or disease

SPECIFICITY: the probability that a diagnostic test can correctly identify the absence of a particular disease, assuming the proper conduct of the test; specifically, the number of true negative results divided by the sum of the true negative results and the false positive results; a method that detects 95% of true prostate cancer cases are highly sensitive, but if it also falsely indicates that 40% of those who do not have prostate cancer do have prostate cancer then its specificity is 60%, rather poor; see sensitivity

SPHINCTER: a muscle which surrounds, and by its contraction tends to close; a natural opening; ex. the sphincter of the bladder

STAGE: a term used to define the size and physical extent of a cancer

STAGING: the process of determining extent of disease in a specific patient, in light of all available

information; it is used to help determine appropriate therapy; there are two staging methods: the Whitmore-Jewett staging classification (1956) and the more detailed TNM (tumor, nodes, metastases) classification (1992). Staging should be subcategorized as clinical staging and pathologic staging. Pathologic stage usually relates to what is found at the time of surgery. The TNM system is now most commonly used. Whitmore-Jewett Stage A becomes TNM T1, Stage B becomes T2, Stage C becomes T3

STENT: a tube used by a surgeon to drain fluids

STRATIFIED: in an analysis of research results, a particular clinical or pathologic feature is used as the basis for comparison, e.g. clinical stage, pathologic stage, PSA, or Gleason score

STRICTURE: scarring as a result of a procedure or an injury that constricts the flow of a fluid; for example, a urethral stricture would restrict the flow of urine through the urethra

STRONTIUM-89: an injectable, radioactive product that is used to relieve bone pain in some patients with prostate cancer that no longer respond to hormones or appropriate forms of chemotherapy

SUBCAPSULAR: under the capsule; for example, a subcapsular orchiectomy is a form of castration in which the contents of each testicle is removed but the testicular capsules are then closed and remain in the scrotum

SUPRAPUBIC: above the pubic bone; a suprapubic tube is placed into the bladder by puncturing the skin and soft tissue above the pubic bone

SUTURE: surgical stitching used in the closure of a cut or incision

SYMPTOM: a feeling, sensation, or experience associated with or resulting from a physical or mental disorder and is noticeable by the patient

SYSTEMIC: throughout the whole body; affecting the entire body



T-CELL: an immune-system cell that orchestrates an immune response to infected or malignant cells, sometimes by direct contact with the abnormal cells; T-cells are lymphocytes that develop in the thymus and circulate in the blood and lymphatic system; see dendritic cell


T-SCORE: the number of units — called standard deviations — that your bone density is above or below the average.

T1A, T1B, T1C, T2A, T2B, T2C, T3A, T3B, T3C, T4: see TNM stages

TARGETED CRYOABLATION of PROSTATE (TCAP) CANCER: treatment of prostate cancer by freezing the tumor in order to kill it; see cryosurgery


TESTIS: two male reproductive glands located inside the scrotum that are the primary sources of the male hormone testosterone

TESTICLE: refers to one of two male reproductive glands;see testis

TESTOSTERONE (T): the male hormone or androgen which comprises most of the androgens in a man’s body; chiefly produced by the testicles; may be produced in tissues from precursors such as androstenedione; T is essential to complete male sexual function and fertility

TETRAPLOID: having four times the amount of DNA or chromosomal material

THERAPY: the treatment of disease or disability

THERMOLUMINESCENT DOSIMETER: a device that registers the radiation dose (energy per unit mass) indicated by changes in color induced by temperature change. A device that directly measures absorbed dose

TOMOTHERAPY: rotational radiotherapy delivery using an intensity-modulated fan beam. Intensity-modulated delivery is achieved by moving multiple collimator vanes into and out of the fan beam. The length of time that a leaf spends out of the beam is proportional to the intensity of radiation allowed through that particular portion of the beam

TRANSFORMING GROWTH FACTOR BETA (TGF-β): a bone-derived growth factor that stimulates the prostate cancer cell and osteoblast, among many other functions

TRANSITION: change; for example, the transition zone of the prostate is the area of the prostate closest to the urethra and has features that distinguish it from the much larger peripheral zone

TRANSPERINEAL: through the perineum

TRANSRECTAL: through the rectum

TRANSRECTAL ULTRASOUND (TRUS): a method that uses echoes of ultrasound waves (far beyond the hearing range) to image the prostate by inserting an ultrasound probe into the rectum; commonly used to visualize and guide prostate biopsy procedures

TRANSURETHRAL: through the urethra

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 into the penile urethra, and is intended to relieve obstruction of urine flow due to enlargement of the prostate


TREATMENT: administration of remediesto a patient for a disease; medical care given to treat a disease or illness

TUMOR: an excessive growth of cells caused by uncontrolled and disorderly cell replacement; an abnormal tissue growth that can be either benign or malignant; see benign, malignant


TUMOR NECROSIS FACTOR ALPHA (TNFα): a cell signaling protein responsible for regulation of immune cells




ULTRASOUND (US): sound waves at a particular frequency (far beyond the hearing range) whose echoes bouncing off tissue can be used to image internal organs (e.g., a baby in the womb)

UNDETECTABLE PSA (UDPSA): defined in our research as a PSA of <0.05 using a hypersensitive assay such as DPC Immulite 3rd generation PSA or Tosoh assay

UNDERSTAGING: the assignment of an overly low clinical stage at initial diagnosis because of the difficulty of assessing the available information with accuracy (e.g., stage T2b as opposed to stage T3b)

UNIT: a blood-banking term for a pint of blood or plasma, but can be used to quantitate other blood products such as platelets

UREA: made in the liver, when protein is broken down in your body; is passed out of the body through the urine


URETER: an anatomical tube that drains urine from one of the two kidneys to the bladder

URETHRA: the tube that drains urine from the bladder through the prostate and out through the penis


URINARY TRACT INFECTION (UTI): an infection identifiable by the presence of bacteria (or theoretically, viruses) in the urine; may be associated with fever or a burning sensation on urination

URINARY SYSTEM: the group of organs and their interconnections that permits excess, filtered fluids to exit the body, including (in the male) the kidneys, the ureters, the bladder, the urethra and the penis

UROKINASE-LIKE PLASMINOGEN ACTIVATOR (uPA): a protease or digestive enzyme that is made by the prostate cancer cell, stimulates prostate cancer cell and osteoblast growth, and is involved with invasion and metastasis

UROLOGIST: a doctor trained first as a surgeon, who specializes in disorders of the genitourinary system



VAS DEFERENS: tube through which sperm travel from the testes to the prostate prior to ejaculation

VASECTOMY: operation to make a man sterile by cutting the vas deferens, thus preventing passage of sperm from the testes to the prostate

VASCULAR ENDOTHELIAL GROWTH FACTOR (VEGF): a substance known to stimulate blood vessel growth or angiogenesis and hence stimulate tumor growth

VESICLE: a small sac containing a biologically important fluid



WATCHFUL WAITING: active observation and regular monitoring of a patient without actual treatment




X-RAY: a type of high energy radiation that can be used at low levels to make images of the internal structures of the body, and used at high levels for radiation therapy



ZOLADEX®: trade or brand name for goserelin acetate, an LHRH agonist or LHRH-A; drug used to suppress production of sex hormones

ZONE: part or area of an organ