The words listed below are used in this website, and likely to hear used by members of your healthcare team.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 


  • American Cancer Society. (2012). Prostate cancer documents/webcontent/003134–pdf.pdf 
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2013). Prostate cancer in Australia. Cancer Series no. 79. Cat. No. CAN 76. Canberra: AIHW. 
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Cancer in Australia: an overview, 2012. Cancer series no. 74. Cat. no. CAN 70. Canberra: AIHW. 
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Cancer incidence projections: Australia, 2011 to 2020. Cancer Series no. 66. Cat. No. CAN 62. Canberra: AIHW. 
  • Branfman, J., & Ekberg Stiritz, S. (2012). Teaching men’s anal pleasure: challenging gender norms with “prostage” education. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7(4), 404–428. 
  • Cancer Council Australia. (2009). Localised prostate cancer – a guide for men and their families. 
  • Cancer Council Australia (2010). Advanced prostate cancer – a guide for men and their families. 
  • Chambers, S. (2013). Facing the tiger – a guide for men with prostate cancer and the people who love them. Toowong: Australian Academic Press. 
  • Chapman, S., Barratt, A., & Stockler, M. (2010). Let sleeping dogs lie? What men should know before getting tested for prostate cancer. Sydney: Sydney University Press. 
  • Crawford, E. D., Rove, K. O., Trabulsi, E. J., Qian, J., Drewnowska, K. P., Kaminetsky, J. C., Huisman, T.K., Bilwus, M. L., Freedman, S. J., Glover, W. L., & Bostwick, D. G. (2012). Diagnostic performance of PCA3 to detect prostate cancer in men with increased prostate specific antigen: a prospective study of 1,962 cases. The Journal of Urology, 188(5), 1726–1731. 
  • Department of Health. (2012). Multidisciplinary cancer care – literature review. Melbourne: State Government of Victoria. 
  • Department of Human Services. (2006). Patient management framework – genitourinary tumour stream: prostate cancer. Melbourne: State Government of Victoria. 
  • Dowsett, G., Mitchell, A., & O’Keeffe, D. (2012). ‘They just assume everyone’s straight’ – a technical report on prostate cancer and health promotion for gay and bisexual men for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society, LaTrobe University. 
  • Irwin, L. (2007). Homophobia and heterosexism: implications for nursing and nursing practice. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25(1), 70–76. 
  • Kirby, R. S., Partin, A. W., Parsons, J. K., & Feneley, M. R. (Eds.). (2008). Treatment methods for early and advanced prostate cancer. London: Informa Healthcare. 
  • Klein, L. T., & Lowe, F. C. (1997). The effects of prostatic manipulation on prostate–specific antigen levels. Urologic Clinics of North America, 24(2), 293–297.
  • Diagnosing prostate cancer in gay and bisexual men 
  • Loeb, S., & Catalona, W. J. (2008). What to do with an abnormal PSA test. The Oncologist, 13(3), 299–305. 
  • Mazokopakis, E. E., Batistakis, A. G., & Starakis, I. K. (2007). The effect of ejaculation on serum total and free prostate–specific antigen concentration. Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 10(2), 119. 
  • National Cancer Institute. (2011). Support for people with cancer – taking time (Department of Health & Human Services USA). 
  • Nichol, M. B., Wu, J., Huang, J., Denham, D., Frencher, S. K., & Jacobsen, S. J. (2012). Cost– effectiveness of Prostate Health Index for prostate cancer detection. BJU International, 110(3), 353–362. 
  • Rajaei, M., Momeni, A., Kheiri, S., & Ghaheri, H. (2013). Effect of ejaculation on serum prostate specific antigen level in screening and non–screening population. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 18(5), 387–390. 
  • Santillo, V. M., & Lowe, F. C. (2005). Prostate cancer and the gay male. In G. Perlman & J. Drescher (Eds.), A gay man’s guide to prostate cancer (pp. 9–27). New York: Haworth Medical Press. 
  • Tarhan, F., Orçun, A., Küçükercan, Ì., Çamursoy, N., & Kuyumcuoglu, U. (2005). Effect of prostatic massage on serum complexed prostate–specific antigen levels. Urology, 66(6), 1234–1238.

Further reading: 

Cancer Council Australia. (2010). Localised prostate cancer – a guide for men and their families. (You can get a free copy of this book by contacting PCFA – Tel: 02 9438 7000/1800 220 099 (freecall) Email: 

Perlman, G. (Ed.). (2013). What every gay man needs to know about prostate cancer: The essential guide to diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. New York: Magnus Books. 

Perlman, G., & Drescher, J. (Eds.). (2005). A gay man’s guide to prostate cancer. Binghamton: Haworth Medical Press. 

Other booklets in this series on prostate cancer for gay and bisexual men: 

  • Treatment: Treating prostate cancer in gay and bisexual men – The range of treatment options available to you 
  • Side effects: Managing prostate cancer treatment side effects in gay and bisexual men – The side effects of treatment for prostate cancer with tips on how to cope 
  • Wellbeing: Maintaining wellbeing in gay and bisexual men with prostate cancer – How to deal with the practicalities of living with prostate cancer