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Prostate Cancer: Glossary


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.

Combined hormonal therapy or maximal androgen deprivation: a treatment method that combines suppression of testosterone production and androgen production by the adrenal glands. (See also: hormone therapy.)

Contraindication: a factor that makes use of a drug or other treatment inadvisable.

Cryobank: a place where cells, sperm, or embryos are frozen and then stored.

Cryopreservation: the process of freezing and storing sperm or embryos for later use.

Cystectomy: removal of the bladder.

Cystitis: an inflammation or infection of the bladder. When it is due to bacteria it is referred to as a urinary tract infection. When caused by inflammation it is called interstitial cystitis.

Cystoscopy: also called cystourethroscopy, a procedure where a tube is inserted into the urethra through the opening at the end of the penis. It allows the doctor to visually examine the complete length of the urethra and the bladder for polyps, strictures, abnormal growths, and other problems.

Cytoscope: tube-like device containing a light and viewing lens. A cytoscope is inserted into the urethra to examine the urethra, bladder, and prostate.


Digital rectal exam (DRE): a screening test used to detect prostate cancer in its early stages. Because the prostate is an internal organ, the physician cannot look at it directly. Since the prostate lies in front of the rectum, the doctor can feel it by inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum. He or she will feel the prostate for hard, lumpy, or abnormal areas and to estimate whether the prostate is enlarged.

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