The words listed below are used in this booklet, and you are likely to hear them used by health care professionals.
Adjuvant therapy or adjuvant treatment – Treatment given in addition to the primary treatment. In prostate cancer, adjuvant treatment often refers to hormone therapy or chemotherapy given after radiotherapy or surgery, which is aimed at destroying any remaining cancer cells.
Advanced prostate cancer – Prostate cancer that has spread to surrounding tissue or has spread to other parts of the body.
Alternative therapy – Therapy used instead of standard medical treatment. Most alternative therapies have not been scientifically tested, so there is little proof that they work and their side effects are not always known.
Anaemia – A drop in the number of red blood cells in your body. Anaemia decreases the amount of oxygen in the body and may cause tiredness and fatigue, breathlessness, paleness and a poor resistance to infection.
Brachytherapy – A type of radiotherapy treatment that implants radioactive material sealed in needles or seeds into or near the tumour.
Biopsy – The removal of a small amount of tissue from the body, for examination under a microscope, to help diagnose a disease.
Cancer – A term for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control.
Chemotherapy – The use of drugs, which kill or slow cell growth, to treat cancer. These are called cytotoxic drugs.
Clinical trial – Research conducted with the person’s permission, which usually involves a comparison of two or more treatments or diagnostic methods. The aim is to gain a better understanding of the underlying disease process and/or methods to treat it. A clinical trial is conducted with rigorous scientific method for determining the effectiveness of a proposed treatment.
Cultural engagement – actively involve people with respect to their cultural needs. ˆ Top
Cells – The building blocks of the body. Cells can reproduce themselves exactly, unless they are abnormal or damaged, as are cancer cells.
Diagnosis – The identification and naming of a person’s disease.
Digital rectal examination (DRE) – An examination of the prostate gland through the wall of the rectum. Your doctor will insert a finger into the rectum and is able to feel the shape of the prostate gland. Irregularities in the shape and size may be caused by cancer.
Erectile dysfunction – Inability to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for penetration.
External beam radiotherapy (EBRT) – Uses x-rays directed from an external machine to destroy cancer cells.
Fertility – Ability to have children.
Grade – A score that describes how quickly the tumour is likely to grow.
Hormone – A substance that affects how your body works. Some hormones control growth, others control reproduction. They are distributed around the body through the bloodstream.
Hormone therapy/treatment – Treatment with drugs that minimises the effect of testosterone in the body. This is also known as androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).
Incontinence – Inability to hold or control the loss of urine or faeces. ˆ Top
Locally advanced prostate cancer – Cancer which has spread beyond the prostate capsule and may include the seminal vesicles but still confined to the prostate region.
Lymph nodes – Also called lymph glands. Small, bean-shaped collections of lymph cells scattered across the lymphatic system. They get rid of bacteria and other harmful things. There are lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, groin and abdomen.
Lymphoedema – Swelling caused by a build-up of lymph fluid. This happens when lymph nodes do not drain properly, usually after lymph glands are removed or damaged by radiotherapy.
Metastatic prostate cancer – Small groups of cells have spread from the primary tumour site and started to grow in other parts of the body – such as bones.
Multidisciplinary care – This is when medical, nursing and allied health professionals involved in a person’s care work together with the person to consider all treatment options and develop a care plan that best meets the needs of that person.
Osteoporosis – A decrease in bone mass, causing bones to become fragile. This makes them brittle and liable to break.
Pelvic floor muscles – The floor of the pelvis is made up of muscle layers and tissues. The layers stretch like a hammock from the tailbone at the back to the pubic bone in front. The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and bowel. The urethra (urine tube) and rectum (anus) pass through the pelvic floor muscles.
Perineal (perineum) – The area between the anus and the scrotum.
Prognosis – The likely outcome of a person’s disease.
Prostate cancer – Cancer of the prostate, the male organ that sits next to the urinary bladder and contributes to semen (sperm fluid) production.
Prostate gland – The prostate gland is normally the size of a walnut. It is located between the bladder and the penis and sits in front of the rectum. It produces fluid that forms part of semen.
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) – A protein produced by cells in the prostate gland, which is usually found in the blood in larger than normal amounts when prostate cancer is present. ˆ Top
Quality of life – An individual’s overall appraisal of their situation and wellbeing. Quality of life encompasses symptoms of the disease and side effects of treatment, functional capacity, social interactions and relationships and occupational functioning.
Radical prostatectomy – A surgical operation that removes the prostate.
Radiotherapy or radiation oncology – The use of radiation, usually x-rays or gamma rays, to kill tumour cells or injure them so they cannot grow or multiply.
Self-management – An awareness and active participation by people with cancer in their recovery, recuperation and rehabilitation, to minimise the consequences of treatment, promote survival, health and wellbeing.
Shared decision-making – Integration of a patient’s values, goals and concerns with the best available evidence about benefits, risks and uncertainties of treatment, in order to achieve appropriate health care decisions. It involves clinicians and patients making decisions about the patient’s management together.
Side effect – Unintended effects of a drug or treatment.
Stage – The extent of a cancer and whether the disease has spread from an original site to other parts of the body.
Staging – Tests to find out, and also a way to describe how far a cancer has spread. Frequently these are based on the tumour, the nodes and the metastases. Staging may be based on clinical or pathological features.
Standard treatment – The best proven treatment, based on results of past research.
Support group – People on whom an individual can rely for the provision of emotional caring and concern, and reinforcement of a sense of personal worth and value. Other components of support may include provision of practical or material aid, information, guidance, feedback and validation of the individual’s stressful experiences and coping choices.
Supportive care – Improving the comfort and quality of life for people with cancer.
Survivorship – In cancer, survivorship focuses on the health and life of a person with cancer beyond the diagnosis and treatment phases. Survivorship includes issues related to follow-up care, late effects of treatment, second cancers, and quality of life. ˆ Top
Testicles – Organs which produce sperm and the male hormone testosterone. They are found in the scrotum.
Testosterone – The major male hormone which is produced by the testicles.
Tumour-Node-Metastasis (TNM) System – A staging system used by clinicians to describe how advanced a particular cancer is, which then informs the type of treatment provided.
Tumour – An abnormal growth of tissue. It may be localised (benign) or invade adjacent tissues (malignant) or distant tissues (metastatic).
Urethra – The tube that carries urine from the bladder, and semen, out through the penis and to the outside of the body. ˆ Top