Prostate Cancer: Terms You Need to Know

Health Monitor Staff
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Absolute neutrophil count: A measure of the number of neutrophils—a type of white blood cell that fights infection—in the blood. The count can show if a person has an infection, inflammation, leukemia or other conditions. Chemotherapy can sometimes lower a person’s absolute neutrophil count.

Adjuvant therapy: "Add-on" treatment (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation, hormone or biological therapy) aimed at killing stray cancer cells; typically it follows surgery.

Alopecia: Hair loss, a common side effect of chemotherapy

Anemia: A condition in which the body has too few red blood cells

Antiemetic: A drug that controls (or even prevents) nausea and vomiting, a common side effect of chemotherapy

Biological therapy:
Treatments targeting a specific molecule in cancer cell growth or survival; used to strengthen the immune system and lessen side effects of other treatments

Biopsy: Removal and examination of tissues, cells or fluids to determine if disease is present

Blood cell count: A test that checks the number of red and white blood cells and platelets in your blood

Brachytherapy: Radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate itself; low-dose ones may be left within the prostate, higher dose ones are typically only left there for a short time.

Carcinomas: Solid tumors that start on surfaces of the body and in the lining of glands, such as the prostate. 

Colony-stimulating factors: White blood cell boosters

Complementary therapy: Alternative treatments that are used in addition to conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is not used as a replacement for regular therapy.

Cryosurgery: Hollow needles are inserted into the prostate and freezing gases are passed through them until the prostate and cancer cells are destroyed

Digital rectal exam: A test for abnormalities of organs or other structures in the pelvis and lower abdomen that is done by inserting a finger in the rectum

External beam radiation therapy (IMRT, IGRT, EBRT): Radiation treatments that are focused on the prostate gland from a machine outside the body

Foley catheter: A thin, flexible tube that’s used to drain urine from the bladder through the penis.

Gleason score: A method to measure how aggressive your cancer is. To find your Gleason score, a pathologist will examine a sample of your prostate cancer cells under a microscope and assign it a number between 2 and 10. The lower your score, the less likely your cancer is to grow and spread rapidly.

Granulocyte: A type of white blood cell that fights bacteria and infections. Types of granulocytes are basophils, eosinophils and neutrophils.

Hormonal therapy: The hormone testosterone can fuel the growth of prostate cancers, so the goal of hormone therapy is to either shut down your body’s testosterone production or block the cancer from using this hormone.

Imaging studies: Tests that use a magnetic field or radio waves to produce images of the body’s inside. Imaging studies for cancer include X-rays, CAT scans, CT-PET scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound.

Infusion: Intravenous delivery of meds or fluids

Intravenous: Given through a vein

Leukocyte: A white blood cell, including neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, monocytes and lymphocytes

May 2013