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Prostate Cancer: Glossary

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Cancer: a general term for more than 100 diseases marked by an uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells. Cancer cells can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

Cannulas: tubes that hold an instrument called a laparoscope (see below) and other instruments that allow access to the abdominal cavity for laparoscopic surgery.

Carcinoma: malignant (cancerous) growth that begins in the lining or covering of an organ and tends to invade surrounding tissue and metastasize (spread) to other regions of the body.

Carcinoma in situ: cancer that involves only the tissue in which it began; it has not spread to other tissues.

Catheter (urinary): a thin, flexible, plastic tube that is inserted into the bladder through the penis/urethra to drain urine.

CAT scan: an X-ray technique using computer technology to produce a film showing a detailed cross-section of tissue. A CAT scan may be recommended so your doctor can check for swollen or enlarged lymph nodes, which might mean the cancer has spread. Generally, a CAT scan is only used if the cancer is large, of a high grade, or associated with a very high PSA level.

Chemotherapy: in cancer treatment, refers to the use of drugs whose main effect is either to kill or slow the growth of rapidly multiplying cells. Chemotherapy usually includes a combination of drugs, since this is more effective than a single drug given alone. There are several drug combinations used to treat prostate cancer.

Chronic: persisting over a long period of time.

Chronic prostatitis: a form of prostatitis that is usually caused by bacteria. Chronic prostatitis is the main reason men under the age of 50 visit a urologist. In some cases, chronic prostatitis follows an attack of acute prostatitis. The condition causes recurrent bouts of bladder and urinary infection.

Clear margins: areas of normal tissue that surround cancerous tissue, as seen during a microscopic examination.

Clinical trial: a research program conducted with patients to evaluate a new medical treatment, drug, or device. The purpose of clinical trials is to find new and improved methods of treating different diseases and special conditions.

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