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Prostate Cancer Terms

Commonly used terms in regards to prostate cancer


PSA – prostate specific antigen.

This is a marker for prostate cancer and is elevated if prostate cancer is active anywhere in the body.  It is the best marker in all of cancer therapy.

Gleason Score

The pathology designation for how aggressive a prostate cancer is.  It ranges from 2 – 10 and is based on how the prostate cancer looks under the microscope after the biopsy.  The higher the number,  the more aggressive the cancer is.

Seed Implant

The placement of radioactive pellets into the prostate gland permanently.  This is usually done under a general anesthetic through the skin between the scrotum and the rectum, not through the rectum.  Radiation dissipates over a 3 month period.  The radioactive material is encased in Titanium, so does not react with the body.

Focal Seed Implant

A seed implant to the prostate gland that only covers part of the prostate.  It is only suitable for low risk patients diagnosed with disease on one side of the prostate gland using an MRI/Ultrasound fused 3D trans-perineal mapping biopsy which is done in our practice (one of the very few practices in the country offering this type of biopsy).


The placement of radioisotope surgically within a cancerous tumor either temporarily or permanently.  This is the best way to spare normal tissues from receiving radiation that is not needed.

External Beam Radiation

Using radiation generated in a machine to aim invisible radiation beams at a cancerous tumor from the outside in with no surgery involved.  It is more difficult to spare normal tissues from the harmful effects of radiation using this method.