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Glossary - Men's Health

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Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) - a devastating disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), AIDS kills or impairs cells of the immune system and progressively destroys the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers. HIV is most commonly spread by sexual contact with an infected partner. The term AIDS applies to the most advanced stages of an HIV infection.

Adjuvant treatment - treatment that is added to other therapies to increase effectiveness.

Artificial insemination - a procedure that involves the mechanical placement of relatively large numbers of healthy sperm either at the entrance of the cervix or into a women's uterus, bypassing the cervix, to increase the chance of egg fertilization and pregnancy.

Ascending colon - part of the colon on the right side of the abdomen.

Atherosclerosis - a type of arteriosclerosis caused by a build-up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery.


Balloon urethroplasty - a thin tube with a balloon is inserted into the opening of the penis and guided to the narrowed portion of the urethra; there the balloon is inflated to widen the urethra and ease the flow of urine.

Barium - a metallic, chemical, chalky, liquid used to coat the inside of organs so that they will show up on an X-ray.

Barium enema X-ray - lower gastrointestinal (GI) series that shows the anatomy of the colon by putting barium into the colon (much like an enema) before the X-ray is done.

Barium swallow - upper gastrointestinal (GI) series that shows the esophagus, stomach, and sometimes the uppermost parts of the small intestine by having the patient drink the barium liquid before the X-ray is done.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (also called BPH or benign prostatic hypertrophy) - an enlargement of the prostate caused by disease or inflammation. It is not cancer, but its symptoms are often similar to some of those of prostate cancer.

Benign tumor - an abnormal growth that is not cancer and does not spread to other areas of the body.

Biological therapy (also called immunotherapy, biotherapy, or biological response modifier therapy) - uses the body's immune system, either directly or indirectly, to fight cancer or to lessen side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.

Biopsy - a procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

Bladder - a triangle-shaped, hollow organ located in the lower abdomen that holds urine. It is held in place by ligaments that are attached to other organs and the pelvic bones. The bladder's walls relax and expand to store urine, and contract and flatten to empty urine through the urethra.

Body mass index (BMI) - a measure of weight proportionate to height. Defined as weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in centimeters.

Breast cancer - a cancerous tumor of the breast tissue.


Cancer - general term for a large group of diseases (more than 100), all characterized by uncontrolled growth, invasion, and spread of abnormal cells to other parts of the body.

Chemotherapy - treatment with drugs to destroy cancer cells.

Chlamydial infection - very common sexually transmitted disease or urinary tract infection caused by a bacteria-like organism in the urethra and reproductive system.

Colon - large intestine or large bowel.

Colonoscopy - test to look into the rectum and colon through a long, flexible, narrow tube (called a colonoscope) with a light and tiny lens on the end.

Colorectal cancer - cancer that occurs in the colon (large intestine) or the rectum (the end of the large intestine).

Compound fracture -a type of fracture in which the broken bone protrudes through the skin.

Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal and vertical cross-sectional images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans provide more detailed images than general X-rays.

Contusion - a bruise caused by a blow to the muscle, tendon, or ligament; caused when blood pools around the point of injury and discolors the skin.

Coronary artery bypass - a surgical procedure in which small portions of veins or arteries are taken from one part of the body and transplanted into the heart to bypass clogged coronary arteries around the heart.

Coronary heart disease - a condition in which the coronary arteries narrow from an accumulation of plaque (atherosclerosis) and cause a decrease in blood flow to the heart.

Cryosurgery or cryoprostatectomy - freezing of the prostate through the use of liquid nitrogen probes guided by transrectal ultrasound of the prostate.

Cystoscopy (also called cystourethroscopy) - an examination in which a scope, a flexible tube and viewing device, is inserted through the urethra to examine the bladder and urinary tract for structural abnormalities or obstructions, such as tumors or stones.

Cryptorchidism - failure of one or both of the testicle(s) to move down into the scrotum.


Descending colon - the middle part of the colon located on the left side of the abdomen.

Diagnosis - identifying a disease by its signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings.

Digital rectal exam (DRE) - procedure in which the health care provider inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to examine the rectum and the prostate gland for signs of cancer.


Electroencephalogram (EEG) - a procedure that records the brain's continuous electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp.

Endoscopy - a diagnostic procedure that uses a lighted, flexible scope threaded through a structure or organ, such as the esophagus or colon, to diagnose internal abnormalities. Surgical procedures may also be performed with endoscopy.

Erectile dysfunction (also called impotence) - the inability to achieve an erection, and/or dissatisfaction with the size, rigidity, and/or duration of erections.

Erythroplakia - a red patch of mucous membrane inside the mouth; one cause of oral cancer.

Expectant management or therapy - "watchful waiting" or close monitoring of prostate cancer by a physician instead of immediate treatment.

External urethral sphincter muscle - a voluntary and involuntary ring-like band of muscle fibers that you voluntarily contract when you want to stop urinating.


Fecal occult blood test - test to check for hidden blood in stool; screening test for cancer of the colon or rectum.

Functional incontinence - leakage of urine or stool due to a difficulty reaching a restroom in time because of physical conditions such as arthritis.


Genital herpes - a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Genital warts - a sexually transmitted disease caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Gonorrhea - a common sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium, which can lead to infertility in women.

Grading - a diagnostic process done in the lab with cells taken from the prostate to measure how aggressive the tumor is. The cancer cells are graded by how closely they look like normal cells.


Heart attack (also called myocardial infarction) - damage to the heart muscle due to insufficient blood supply.

Hormone therapy - the use of hormones, medications, or surgery to suppress (block) or mimic hormones and alter the growth of hormone sensitive cancer.

Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) - a group of viruses that can cause warts. Some HPVs are sexually transmitted and cause wart-like growths on the genitals. HPV is a major risk factor for cervical, vulvar, vaginal, urethral, penile, anus, and some head and neck cancers.


Impotence (also called erectile dysfunction) - the inability to achieve an erection, and/or dissatisfaction with the size, rigidity, and/or duration of erections.

In vitro fertilization - treatment for infertility in which a woman's egg is fertilized, outside her body, with her partner's sperm or sperm from a donor.

Indigestion (also called dyspepsia) - poor digestion; symptoms include heartburn, nausea, bloating, and gas.

Insomnia - inability to sleep or to stay asleep throughout the night.

Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) - a series of X-rays of the kidney, ureters, and bladder with the injection of a contrast dye into the vein to detect tumors, abnormalities, kidney stones, or any obstructions, and to assess renal blood flow.


Jaundice - a yellow discoloration of the skin and eye whites due to abnormally high levels of bilirubin (bile pigmentation) in the bloodstream.


Kegel exercises - Repeatedly tightening and releasing the pelvic muscle, strengthening it in order to prevent urine leakage.


Leukoplakia - a whitish patch of mucous membrane inside the mouth; one cause of oral cancer.

Lymph nodes - small glands located in many areas of the body that are part of the immune system and help defend the body against harmful foreign particles.

Lymphadenectomy - a procedure in which lymph nodes are taken from the body for purposes of diagnosing or staging cancer.

Lymphangiogram - an X-ray that uses a special dye to look at lymph vessels and nodes.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

Malignant tumor - a mass of cancer cells that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant areas of the body.

Metastasis - the spread of cancer cells to distant areas of the body by way of the lymph system or blood stream.

Microsurgical fertilization - a procedure used to facilitate sperm penetration into the oocyte (egg), so that fertilization takes place under the microscope.

Modified radical mastectomy - the removal of the breast, some lymph nodes in the armpit, and sometimes part of the chest wall muscles.

Multiple semen analysis - at least two semen examples are collected on separate days to examine the semen and sperm for various factors, such as semen volume, consistency, and pH, and the sperm count, motility, and morphology (shape).


Nerve sparing technique - a surgical technique during a radial prostatectomy where one or both of the neurovascular bundles controlling erections are spared.


Obesity - an excessive accumulation of fat in the body. A person with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 is considered obese.

Oral cancer - a cancer found in the oral cavity (mouth), on the lip, and the oropharynx (the part of the throat at the back of the mouth).

Orchiectomy (also called castration) - the surgical removal of the testicles.

Overflow incontinence - leakage that occurs when the quantity of urine produced exceeds the bladder's capacity to hold it.

Overweight - a label of ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given person. A person with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30 is considered overweight.


Penis - the outer reproductive organ of a male.

Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) - a technique to treat heart disease and chest pain by using angioplasty in the coronary arteries to permit more blood flow into the heart.

Peyronie's disease - a plaque, or hard lump, that forms on the erection tissue of the penis. The plaque often begins as an inflammation that may develop into a fibrous tissue causing a curvature to the penis.

Polyp - a growth that projects from the lining of mucous membrane, such as the intestine.

Polyposis - presence of many polyps.

Premature ejaculation (PE) - the inability to maintain an erection long enough for mutual satisfaction. Premature ejaculation is divided into primary and secondary forms.

Priapism - persistent erection of the penis, usually accompanied by tenderness and pain.

Proctectomy - operation to remove the rectum.

Proctitis - inflammation of the rectum.

Proctocolectomy (also called coloproctectomy) - operation to remove the colon and rectum.

Proctocolitis - inflammation of the colon and rectum.

Proctologist - a doctor who specializes in disorders of the anus and rectum.

Proctoscope - short, rigid metal tube used to look into the rectum and anus.

Proctoscopy - looking into the rectum and anus with a proctoscope.

Proctosigmoiditis - inflammation of the rectum and the sigmoid colon.

Proctosigmoidoscopy - endoscopic examination of the rectum and sigmoid colon. (See also endoscopy.)

Prostate - a sex gland in men that secretes some of the fluid that makes up semen. It is about the size of a walnut, and surrounds the neck of the bladder and urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder. It is partly muscular and partly glandular, with ducts opening into the prostatic portion of the urethra. It is made up of three lobes: a center lobe with one lobe on each side.

Prostatectomy - surgical procedure for the partial or complete removal of the prostate.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) - a protein made by the prostate gland and found in the blood; high levels may indicate cancer in the prostate gland.

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test - a blood test used to help detect prostate cancer by measuring a substance called prostate-specific antigen produced by the prostate.

Prostatism - any condition of the prostate that causes interference with the flow of urine from the bladder.

Prostatitis - an inflamed condition of the prostate gland that may be accompanied by discomfort, pain, frequent urination, infrequent urination, and, sometimes, fever.



Radiation - use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, neutrons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Radical prostatectomy - surgery to remove the prostate along with the two seminal vesicle glands attached to the prostate.

Radical retropubic prostatectomy - an operation to remove the entire prostate gland and seminal vesicles through the lower abdomen.

Rectal manometry - a test that uses a thin tube and balloon to measure pressure and movements of the rectal and anal sphincter muscles.

Rectal ultrasound - a test in which a probe is inserted in the rectum and directs sound waves at the prostate. The patterns of the sound waves form an image of the prostate gland on a computer screen.

Rectum - lower end of the large intestine, leading to the anus.

RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) - treatment plan for acute injury to prevent inflammatory processes from becoming uncontrolled and to speed up the recovery process by eliminating swelling; acute injury management.


Scrotum - the bag of skin that holds the testicles.

Segmental mastectomy - surgery to remove a portion of the breast.

Sexually transmitted disease (STD) - infection spread through sexual intercourse and other intimate sexual contact.

Sigmoid colon - lower part of the colon that empties into the rectum.

Sigmoidoscopy - examination of the rectum and lower part of the colon (sigmoid colon) using a flexible viewing tube passed through the rectum.

Skin cancer - a malignant tumor that starts in the skin cells.

Sperm disorders - problems with the production and maturation of sperm; the single most common cause of male infertility. Sperm may be immature, abnormally shaped, unable to move properly, or, normal sperm may be produced in abnormally low numbers (oligospermia).

Sphincter muscles - circular muscles that, for example, help keep urine from leaking by closing tightly like a rubber band around the opening of the bladder.

Sprain - trauma to a joint that causes pain, swelling, and disability due to damage to a ligament.

Staging - an evaluation of the extent of disease that provides the basis for making treatment recommendations.

Stem cell transplantation - removing stem cells from the patient or a donor and re-infusing them into the patient to help in production of healthy blood cells; a method of replacing stem cells which are destroyed by cancer treatment.

Strain - a partial or complete tear of a muscle or tendon.

Stress fractures - weak spots or small cracks in the bone caused by continuous overuse.

Stress incontinence - the most common type of incontinence that involves the leakage of urine during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or other body movements that put pressure on the bladder.

Syphilis - a sexually transmitted disease caused by Treponema pallidum bacteria. The initial symptom of syphilis is a painless open sore that usually appears on the penis or around or in the vagina. If untreated, syphilis may go on to more advanced stages, including a transient rash and, eventually, serious involvement of the heart and central nervous system.


Testicular cancer - cancer that develops in a testicle.

Testis - one of the pair of male gonads that produce semen; suspended in the scrotum by the spermatic cords.

Testosterone - male sex hormone produced mostly by the testicles, although a small amount is made by the adrenal glands.

Transrectal ultrasound of the prostate - a test using sound wave echoes to create an image of the prostate gland to visually inspect for abnormal conditions like gland enlargement, nodules, or penetration of a tumor through capsule of the gland and into the seminal vesicles or other nearby tissues. The ultrasound probe is inserted in the rectum and directs sound waves at the prostate. It may also be used for guidance of needle biopsies of the prostate gland and guiding the nitrogen probes in cryosurgery.

Transurethral surgery - surgery in which no external incision (cut) is needed. For prostate transurethral surgery, the surgeon reaches the prostate by inserting an instrument through the urethra. See below for different types of transurethral surgery.

Transurethral hyperthermia - an investigative procedure that uses heat, usually provided by microwaves, to shrink the prostate.

Transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP) - a procedure that widens the urethra by making some small cuts in the bladder neck, where the urethra joins the bladder, and in the prostate gland itself.

Transurethral laser incision of the prostate (TULIP) - the use of laser through the urethra that melts the tissue.

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) - a surgical procedure by which portions of the prostate gland are removed through the penis.

Transverse colon - part of the colon that extends across the abdomen from right to left.

Tunica vaginalis - a thin pouch that holds the testes within the scrotum.


Ulcerative colitis - serious disease that causes ulcers and irritation in the inner lining of the colon and rectum.

Ultrasound (also called sonography) - a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels.

Urethra - narrow channel through which urine passes from the bladder out of the body.

Urge incontinence - the inability to hold urine long enough to reach a restroom. It is often found in people who have conditions such as diabetes, stroke, dementia, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis, but may be an indication of other diseases or conditions that would also warrant medical attention.

Urinalysis - laboratory examination of urine for various cells and chemicals, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, infection, or excessive protein.

Urinary incontinence - the loss of bladder control.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) - an infection that occurs in the urinary tract; often caused by bacteria such as Escherichia coli. A urinary tract infection often causes frequent urination, pain and burning when urinating, and blood in the urine.

Urine flow study - a test in which the patient urinates into a special device that measures how quickly the urine is flowing. A reduced flow may suggest benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Urogenital - refers to the urinary and reproductive systems.

Urology - the branch of medicine concerned with the urinary tract in both genders, and with the genital tract or reproductive system in the male.


Vas deferens - the tubes leading to the testes.

Vasectomy - a surgical procedure performed to make a man sterile, or unable to father a child. It is a permanent male birth control measure, and a means of contraception used in many parts of the world.


Watchful waiting - close monitoring of prostate cancer by a doctor instead of immediate treatment. Also called expectant management.




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