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Prostate Cancer: Glossary


Prostate cancer: the most common form of cancer in American men and the second leading cause of cancer death in men. Cells in the body normally divide (reproduce) only when new cells are needed. Sometimes, cells will divide for no reason, creating a mass of tissue called a tumor. Tumors can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Prostate cancer is a malignant tumor.

Prostate enlargement: See benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA): a blood test used to detect elevated levels of this protein, produced by the prostate, which can indicate prostate cancer or other prostate diseases.

Prostate stripping: during a digital rectal examination, the doctor may massage, or "strip" the prostate to force prostatic fluid out of the gland and into the urethra. This fluid sample is then examined under a microscope for signs of inflammation and infection and helps to diagnose prostatitis.

Prostatic ducts: group of 20 to 30 tubes inside the prostate that collect and transport prostatic fluid to the ejaculatory ducts.

Prostatic fluid: fluid produced by the prostate that makes up a portion of the semen. Doctors believe the prostatic fluid contains a chemical substance that contributes to the viability of sperm for reproduction.

Prostatodynia: pain in the prostate.

Prostatectomy: See radical prostatectomy.

Prosthesis: an artificial replacement of a part of the body. A penile prosthesis may be considered if the patient has had erectile dysfunction for about one year following cancer treatment and nonsurgical therapy has either failed or is unacceptable. Prosthesis is an effective form of therapy in many patients, but it requires an operation to implant a device in the penis. Surgery can cause complications, such as mechanical failure or infection, which may require removal of the prosthesis and re-operation.

Prostatitis: an infection of the prostate. Prostatitis may also appear as an inflammation of the prostate with no documentation of infection. When no definite infectious cause can be identified, the condition is called nonbacterial prostatitis. A sudden bacterial infection of the prostate gland characterized by inflammation of the prostate is called acute bacterial or infectious prostatitis. Acute bacterial prostatitis requires prompt treatment to prevent other health problems. Chronic (long-lasting) prostatitis is the most common form of this disease, usually caused by bacteria.

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