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Prostate Cancer: Glossary


Antimicrobial: a drug that kills microorganisms or prevents them from multiplying; antibiotics are naturally occurring antimicrobials. Antimicrobial medications are used to treat acute infectious prostatitis and chronic prostatitis.

Antibodies: proteins produced by the body to protect itself from foreign substances (such as bacteria or viruses).

Antigens: Foreign substances that cause an immune response in the body. The body produces antibodies to fight antigens, or harmful substances.

Antispasmodics: drugs that help decrease involuntary muscle spasms that may occur in the bladder.

Asymptomatic: no symptoms or no clear sign that disease is present.

Atrophy: wasting of tissue or organ due to disease or lack of use (as in muscle atrophy). The testicles can become atrophic due to disease, cancer, or abnormal development.

Azoospermia: the absence of sperm in the ejaculate.

Benign tumor : a noncancerous growth that does not spread to nearby tissues or other parts of the body.

Biofeedback : a method of learning to modify a particular bodily function, by monitoring it with the aid of an electronic device that may produce sight or sound signals. Pelvic floor biofeedback may help some patients who have an underlying pelvic floor neuromuscular dysfunction.

Biological therapy: treatment to stimulate or restore the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease -- also called immunotherapy.

Biopsy: removal of a sample of tissue for study, usually under a microscope. A physician uses ultrasound to guide a small needle into areas of the prostate where abnormalities are detected. The needle is used to collect cells or tissue samples of the prostate. Usually six to fourteen biopsies are taken to sample various areas of the prostate. The tissue samples are then analyzed in a laboratory to help physicians diagnose a variety of disorders and diseases in the prostate.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): also known as benign (noncancerous) enlargement of the prostate. Almost all men with normal hormonal function (those who produce the male hormone testosterone) will develop some enlargement of the prostate as they age.

Brachytherapy: Also called image-directed irradiation (and internal radiation therapy), a form of radiation therapy for prostate cancer. There are two types of brachytherapy for prostate cancer: low-dose rate (LDR) and high-dose rate (HDR). The most commonly used one is LDR. During this procedure, radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate gland under ultrasound guidance. The number of seeds and their locations are determined by a computer-generated treatment plan for each patient. The seeds remain in place permanently and become inactive after a period of months. HDR brachytherapy is a newer treatment and involves the temporary placement of hollow needles in the prostate. These are filled with a radioactive substance for a period of minutes and then removed. This is repeated two to three more times over several days.

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