an important tumor suppressor gene that is not working properly in many cancers. The protein that this gene makes (also called p53) normally causes damaged cells to die. Mutations (changes) in this gene can be inherited (passed on from a parent) or they can happen during a person’s life. When these mutations are present, they can increase risk of many types of cancer. See also inherited disease, mutation, tumor suppressor genes.
a rare form of breast cancer that begins in the milk passages (ducts) and spreads to the skin of the nipple and areola. This affected skin may look crusted, scaly, red, or oozing. The prognosis (outlook) is generally better if these nipple changes are the only sign of breast disease and no lump can be felt. Named for the doctor who first identified it; also known as Paget’s disease. See also areola, duct, nipple
a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist who is an expert in pain control.
to relieve symptoms, such as pain, nausea, or fullness. See also palliative treatment.
treatment that relieves symptoms, such as pain, but is not expected to cure disease. Curative treatment can be used at the same time as palliative treatment, but the main purpose of palliative care is to improve the patient’s quality of life.
using the hands to examine. A palpable mass is one that can be felt.
ulcerative colitis throughout the entire colon. See also colon, ulcerative colitis.
an organ that lies behind the stomach and contains 2 different types of gland cells. One type makes enzymes which are released into the intestines to help digest food. The other type makes insulin and glucagon, which help regulate blood sugar. See also enzyme, glandular cells.
surgery to remove the pancreas. See also pancreas.
see prostatic acid phosphatase. (Not the same as Pap test, the cancer screening method for women. For that, see Pap test.)
a test in which cells are scraped from a woman’s cervix and looked at under a microscope to see if abnormal cells are present. Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing is often done at the same time, and a pelvic examination is usually done as well, but these are not part of the Pap test. See also cervix, human papillomavirus, pelvic examination.
cancer cells that are arranged in tiny, finger-like projections when looked at under a microscope. This is a common feature of some tumors of the ovaries, uterus, thyroid gland, and other organs. See also histology, ovary, pathologist, thyroid, uterus.
benign (not cancer) growth.
having to do with a follicle. In cancer, the term can be used to describe the C cells on the thyroid (parafollicular cells). See also follicle, follicular.
in prostate cancer, a tool that uses the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), Gleason score, and stage that are obtained before surgery to predict the odds that the cancer has spread outside the prostate. See also Gleason score, prostate, prostate-specific antigen, staging.
the small, flat, movable bone that forms the front of the knee and protects the knee joint.
a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and classifying diseases in the lab by testing and looking at cells under a microscope. The pathologist determines whether a tumor is benign (not cancer) or cancer, and if cancer, the exact cell type and grade.
muscles attached to the front of the chest wall and upper arms. The larger one is called pectoralis major, and the smaller one is called pectoralis minor. Because these muscles are next to the breast, breast cancer may spread to them, although this rarely happens.
a doctor who specializes in cancers of children. See also cancer care team.
a doctor who specializes in the care of children.
an exam of a woman’s uterus and other pelvic organs. It is used to help find cancers of the reproductive organs. The doctor will look at external structures and palpate (feel) the internal organs such as the ovaries and uterus. See also cervix, ovary, pelvis, uterus.
surgery to remove the organs in the pelvis. See also pelvis.
-vick limf node diss-eck
removal of the lymph nodes in the pelvis. See also lymph node, pelvic nodes, pelvis.
pelvic lymph nodes; the lymph nodes to which prostate cancer is most likely to spread. These nodes are often removed and checked for cancer as part of surgery to remove prostate and other cancers in the pelvis. See also lymph node, pelvic lymph node dissection, pelvis, prostate.
the part of the skeleton that forms a ring or basin of bones below the belly (abdomen). Pelvis may also refer to the general area of the body between the hip bones, below the abdomen. The pelvis contains the bladder, reproductive organs, and the rectum. See also bladder, rectum.
artificial device placed in the penis during surgery to help a man have erections. See also erectile dysfunction.
the male sex organ.
a test that shows how much prostate-specific antigen (PSA) circulates unattached to blood proteins (alone) in the blood. The percent-free PSA (fPSA) is the ratio of how much PSA circulates free compared to the total PSA level. The percentage of free PSA is lower in men who have prostate cancer than in men who do not. A low fPSA may suggest the need for a biopsy. Also known as free-PSA ratio. See also biopsy, complexed PSA, prostate, prostate-specific antigen.
a hole in the wall of a hollow organ, like the bladder or lung.
an operation in which the prostate is removed through an incision (cut) in the skin between the scrotum and anus. See also anus, perineum, prostate, scrotum.
the area between the anus and the scrotum or the vagina. This is called the perineal area. See also anus, scrotum, vagina.
invasion of cancer cells into areas around nerves of the prostate gland. This is sometimes reported by pathologists looking at the prostate after it has been surgically removed, but it is not thought to affect a man’s prognosis (survival outlook). See also pathologist, prostate.
see hematopoietic stem cell transplant.
the outer part, near the outer edges. In the prostate, for instance, it is this area where most prostate cancers occur. See also prostate.
membrane that lines the abdomen (belly) and covers most of its organs. Peritoneal cavity refers to the area enclosed by the peritoneum.
see low-dose rate brachytherapy.
biopsy tissue that has been prepared to be looked at under a microscope. The tissue is soaked in formaldehyde, processed in various chemicals, enclosed in a block of wax, sliced very thin, attached to a microscope slide, and stained. This process usually takes 1 to 2 days. It allows a clear view of the cells in the sample so that the pathologist can see whether or not cancer is present. Compare with frozen section. See also biopsy, pathologist.
see positron emission tomography.
the throat; the tube that connects the mouth and nasal passages with the swallowing tube (esophagus) and windpipe (trachea). It extends from above the soft palate, behind the mouth, down to the epiglottis. See also epiglottis, oropharynx, nasopharynx.
also called PDE5 inhibitors. Drugs, such as sildenafil (Viagra®), vardenafil (Levitra®), and tadalafil (Cialis®), that can help men get an erection. Not all forms of impotence respond to these drugs. See also impotence.
-shun or foe
use of a laser beam to heat up and kill cancer cells. Most often used to relieve blockages rather than to cure cancers. See also ablation.
also called PDT. A treatment sometimes used for cancers of the skin, esophagus (swallowing tube), lung, or bladder. PDT begins with the injection of a non-toxic chemical into the blood. This chemical is allowed to collect in the tumor for a couple of hours to a couple of days, depending on the chemical. A special type of laser light is then focused on the cancer. This light causes the chemical to change so that it can kill cancer cells. The advantage of PDT is that it can kill cancer cells with very little harm to normal cells. The downside is that it can only be used in areas that can be reached with light.
standard type of radiation used for external beam radiation treatments. See also conformal radiation therapy, external beam radiation therapy.
also called phylloides tumor or cystosarcoma phyllodes. A rare breast tumor, usually not cancer (benign), which grows quickly and can become quite large.
a health professional who uses exercises and other methods to restore or maintain the body’s strength, mobility, and function.
pertaining to the processes of the body or its systems. May also be used to describe a particular body function or organ as normal.
substance produced by plants that may produce health benefits when eaten or ingested; for example, antioxidants. See also antioxidants.
see prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia.
small gland underneath the brain which controls other endocrine glands in the body. Also called the master gland. See also endocrine glands.
an inert, inactive substance or sham procedure that may be used in studies (clinical trials) to compare the effects of a given treatment with no treatment. The pill form is commonly called a “sugar pill.” Placebo can mean a treatment, injection, or even something that looks like real surgery that is used when studying a treatment that is not given by mouth. Placeboes are not used in studies where a proven treatment is available; instead, the new treatment is tested against the proven one.
a surgeon specializing in restoring appearance or in rebuilding or replacing removed or injured body parts.
a type of blood cell that helps stop bleeding by plugging up holes in blood vessels after an injury. Chemotherapy can cause a drop in the platelet count, a condition called thrombocytopenia that carries a risk of excessive bleeding. See also chemotherapy.
the membranes around the lungs and lining the chest cavity.
-dis-sis or plur
injection of an agent between the layers of the pleura that causes them to fuse to seal off leaks. This procedure helps prevent fluid or air from building up in the pleural cavity, the area between the pleura. See also pleura.
number of sets of chromosomes contained in a cell. Ploidy is a marker that helps predict how quickly a cancer is likely to spread. Cancers with 23 pairs of chromosomes (the same as as normal cells) are called diploid (dip-loyd) and those with either more or less than that amount are aneuploid (an-you-ployd). See also chromosome, deoxyribonucleic acid.
surgery to remove a lung. See also lobectomy.
a chronic blood disorder in which the bone marrow makes too many red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This leads to a higher concentration of hemoglobin with larger amounts of red blood cells, which is the main feature of this disease. But with time, the high platelet count may become more of a problem and patients can suffer from problems with blood clots because of this and their “thickened” blood. Often, the spleen is enlarged. Over time, the bone marrow is replaced by fibrous tissue (myelofibrosis). Although it is not a true cancer, it often turns into acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) after many years. See also bone marrow, leukemia, platelet, red blood cells, spleen, white blood cells.
a growth from a mucous membrane commonly found in organs such as the rectum, the uterus, and the nose. Polyps may be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). See also adenomatous polyp, hyperplastic polyp, inflammatory polyp, mucous membrane, rectum, uterus.
surgery or procedure to remove a polyp. See also polyp.
a procedure that uses computed tomography (CT) and a dye injected into the portal vein of the liver. It takes cross-sectional x-rays of the veins to find cancer that may have spread from the colon or rectum. See also colon, computed tomography, rectum, x-ray.
see surgical margin.
also called a PET scan. An imaging method that creates a picture of the body (or of biochemical events) after the injection of a very low dose of a radioactive form of a substance such as glucose (sugar). The scan computes the rate at which the tumor is using the sugar. All cells use sugar, but high-grade tumors use more sugar than normal and low-grade tumors use less than high-grade ones. PET scans may be used to find tumors or see how well a tumor is responding to treatment. See also grade, imaging studies, nuclear medicine, radioisotope.
the back or near the back of an organ or the body.
soft paste or thick liquid that is usually heated, applied to a cloth, and placed over an inflamed or painful area. Herbs, leaves, or foods are commonly used for this in folk medicine and home remedies.
also called pre-malignant. Changes in cells that may, but do not always, become cancer.
susceptibility to a disease that can be triggered under certain conditions. For example, some women have a family history of breast cancer and are more likely (but not necessarily destined) to develop breast cancer.
a measure of the proportion of people in a population with a particular disease at a given time. Compare to incidence.
the reduction of cancer risk by eliminating or reducing contact with things known to cause cancer, by changing conditions that contribute to cancer (such as obesity or lack of exercise), or by using medicines that interfere with cancer development. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, for example, reduces the number of people who will get lung and other cancers.
the doctor a person would normally see first when a problem arises. A primary care doctor could be a general practitioner, a family practice doctor, a gynecologist, a pediatrician, or an internal medicine doctor (an internist).
the place where cancer begins. Cancer is usually named after the organ in which it first starts. For example, cancer that starts in the breast is always breast cancer, even if it spreads (metastasizes) to other organs such as bones or lungs. See also metastasize, metastasis.
the first, and usually the most important, treatment.
a female sex hormone released by the ovaries during every menstrual cycle to prepare the uterus (womb) for pregnancy and the breasts for milk production (lactation). See also hormone, ovary.
a lab test done on a sample (biopsy) of breast cancer that shows whether the cancer depends on progesterone for growth. Progesterone and estrogen receptor tests provide information to help decide whether the patient would be helped by medicines that block these hormones. See also biopsy, estrogen, estrogen receptor assay, progesterone.
a prediction of the course of disease; the outlook for the chances of survival.
spreading or growing disease, with or without treatment.
a hormone released from the pituitary gland that prompts the breasts to produce milk. See also hormone, pituitary.
rapid or excessive growth or multiplication of cells.
a substance found naturally in the body that can be used to produce erections. It can be injected into the base of the penis or put into the urethra as a suppository or pellet. See also urethra.
an imaging study that uses low-level radioactive material to find prostate cancer that has spread beyond the prostate. The radioactive material is attached to an antibody made in a lab to recognize and stick to prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), a substance found only in normal and cancerous prostate cells. This test detects spread of prostate cancer to bone, lymph nodes, and other organs, and can clearly distinguish prostate cancer from other cancers and non-cancer disorders. The ProstaScint scan is most commonly used to look for cancer if the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level is still high after treatment. See also antibody, lymph node, prostate, prostate-specific antigen, radioisotope.
-tate; note that there is no “r” in the second syllable]
a gland found only in men. It is just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate makes a fluid that is part of semen. The tube that carries urine, the urethra, runs through the prostate. See also bladder, rectum, semen.
surgical removal of all or part of the prostate gland. See also prostate.
also called PSA. A protein made by the prostate gland. Levels of PSA in the blood often go up in men with prostate cancer as well as other conditions. The PSA test is sometimes used to help screen for prostate cancer, but it cannot predict which prostate cancers will grow and cause problems later. It is also used to check the results of treatment. See also prostate.
also called PAP. A blood test, like the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, that may be done when looking for evidence of prostate cancer. Unlike the PSA test, the PAP test is not useful for prostate cancer screening. (This not the same as the Pap screening test for cervical cancer; for that, see Pap test.) See also prostate, prostate-specific antigen, screening.
also called PIN. A condition in which there are changes in how the prostate gland cells look under the microscope. The changes are classified as low-grade, meaning that the cells look almost normal, or high-grade, meaning that they look more abnormal. The condition is not cancer, but it may lead to the development of cancer. High-grade PIN is more likely to become cancer than low-grade PIN. See also prostate, atypia.
the part of the urethra that runs through the prostate. See also prostate, urethra.
inflammation of the prostate. Prostatitis is not cancer, although it can produce swelling and cause trouble passing urine. See also prostate.
an artificial replacement part of the body, such as a breast prosthesis. A prosthesis may be implanted surgically inside the body or worn outside the body.
a large molecule made up of a chain of smaller units called amino acids. Proteins serve many vital functions inside and outside of the body’s cells.
a formal outline or plan, such as a description of what treatments a patient will get and exactly when each should be given. See also regimen.
a radioactive particle used in some forms of radiation therapy. See also conformal proton beam radiation therapy, radiation therapy.
see conformal proton beam therapy.
see prostate-specific antigen.
PSAD is determined by dividing the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level by the prostate volume (its size as measured by transrectal ultrasound). A higher PSAD indicates a greater likelihood of cancer. See also prostate, prostate-specific antigen, transrectal ultrasound.
the length of time it takes for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level in the blood to double. This is sometimes useful in determining if prostate cancer is present or has come back (recurred). See also prostate, prostate-specific antigen.
a measurement of how quickly the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level rises over a period of time. A higher PSAV was once thought to suggest greater chance of prostate cancer being present, but that may not be true. See also prostate, prostate-specific antigen.
a medical doctor specializing in mental health and behavioral disorders. Psychiatrists can prescribe medicines and offer other types of mental health therapy.
a health professional who assesses a person’s mental and emotional status and provides counseling.
the psychological and/or social aspects of health, disease, treatment, and/or rehabilitation.
a gene that normally helps control cell growth. Inherited changes in this gene cause Cowden syndrome, a rare disorder in which people are at higher risk for both non-cancer and cancer breast tumors. It is also linked to growths in the digestive tract, thyroid, uterus, and ovaries. See also gastrointestinal tract, gene, inherited disease, mutation, ovary, thyroid, uterus.
also called pubis or pubic arch. Arch of bone at the center base of the pelvis, where the 2 sides join in the front. See also pelvis.
a doctor who has specialized experience and knowledge in the diagnosis and treatment of lung conditions and diseases.