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Q - Z of terms

QUALITY ADJUSTED LIFE YEAR (QALY): A combined measure of both quality and quantity of life with a disease burden. It is used as a metric in the economic evaluation of treatments to assess the value for money of medical interventions.

QUALITY OF LIFE TRIALS: (or Supportive Care trials): Refers to trials that explore ways to improve comfort and quality of life for individuals with a chronic illness.

RADIOFREQUENCY ABLATION (RFA): A type of ABLATION which uses heat from an electric current to burn tumours. A needle enters via the skin to pierce the tumour before the device is activated to burn off the tumour. This procedure is often used to destroy one or two metastatic liver tumours.

RANDOMIZATION: A method based on chance by which study participants are assigned to different treatment groups. This minimizes the differences among groups by equally distributing people with particular characteristics among all the trial arms, thereby avoiding “selection bias.” Randomization allows for researchers to comparably test different treatments in similar groups.

RANDOMIZED CONTROL TRIAL or RANDOMIZED TRIAL (RCT): A study in which participants are randomly (i.e. by chance) assigned to one of two or more treatment arms of a clinical trial.

RESECTION: A surgical procedure to remove all or part of an organ, tissue or other structure in the body. A liver resection entails removing those parts of the liver affected by cancerous lesions.

RESCUE MEDICATION: A quick-relief or fast-acting medication patients in clinical trials may be given besides the investigational drug or control that can alleviate symptoms due to disease or lack of efficacy of the study treatment. It acts quickly to stop symptoms, but the effects are not long lasting.

RETINOBLASTOMA: A rare cancer that rapidly develops from the immature cells of a retina, the light-detecting tissue of the eye. It is the most common primary malignant intraocular cancer in children, and it is almost exclusively found in young children. An initial step in testing for the condition, called the ‘Red Reflex Test’, involves shining a light into the eye in a darkened room and with an ophthalmoscope seeing if there is a red reflection (normal) or white (sometimes indicative of an eye condition).  

RETROSPECTIVE STUDY: A study in which investigators select groups of patients that have already been treated and analyze data from the events experienced by these patients. These studies are subject to bias because investigators can select patient groups with known outcomes.

RISK-BENEFIT RATIO: The risk a treatment places on individual participants versus the potential benefits of the treatment. The risk/benefit ratio may differ depending on the condition being treated and the stage of the disease.

SCREENING TRIALS: Refers to trials which test the best way to detect certain diseases or health conditions.

SELECTIVE INTERNAL RADIATION THERAPY (SIRT): A LIVER DIRECTED TREATMENT where tiny radioactive beads are administered to the liver via the hepatic artery, also known as Radioembolization. The beads get stuck in the small blood vessels supplying the tumours and remain there emitting radiation which damages and kills the nearby tumours.

SIDE EFFECTS: Any undesired actions or effects of a drug or treatment. Experimental drugs must be evaluated for both immediate and long-term side effects.

SINGLE-BLIND STUDY: A study in which subject or patient is unaware of what medication they are taking, while the physician does know.

SIRTEX: A company providing the tiny radioactive microsphere beads for SIRT treatment, sometimes called SIR-Spheres or Theraspheres.


SPONSOR: A person or an organization that manages and finances a clinical trial.

STABLE DISEASE (SD): Used to describe a tumour that is neither growing nor shrinking. Also to describe how no new tumours have appeared and that cancer has not spread to another part of the body.

STANDARD TREATMENT: A treatment currently in wide use by the medical community and approved by a countryʼs regulatory agency considered to be effective in the treatment of a specific disease or condition.

STANDARD OF CARE (SOC): Treatment regimen or management based on state of the art medical care.

STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The probability that an event or difference occurred by chance alone. In clinical trials, the level of statistical significance depends on the number of participants studied and the observations made, as well as the magnitude of differences observed.

STATISTICIAN: One versed in or engaged in compiling statistics.

STEREOTACTIC RADIOSURGERY (SRS): A method of killing cancer cells by focusing several separate beams of radiation onto a single small area. Often used to destroy brain lesions, although also used elsewhere e.g. the lungs, several beams of radiation are aimed at a single spot, the benefit being that other areas of the brain (or other organ) are not seriously damaged because they only receive the lower dosage from any one single beam. Examples of this treatment include CYBERKNIFE and GAMMA KNIFE.

STEREOTACTIC RADIOTHERAPY (SRT): Used to describe a course of STEREOTACTIC RADIOSURGERY, which itself refers only to a single treatment.

STUDY ENDPOINT: An outcome used to judge the safety or effectiveness of a treatment.

SURROGATE ENDPOINT: A biomarker or endpoint that is intended to substitute for a clinical endpoint. A surrogate endpoint is expected to predict a clinical endpoint or lack thereof.

SYSTEMIC TREATMENT: Systemic treatments are drugs that work across the entire body to treat cancer cells wherever they are situated. Examples are systemic chemotherapy, targeted drugs, and immunotherapy.



THERASPHERES: Another name for the tiny irradiating beads used to treat the liver using SELECTIVE INTERNAL RADIATION THERAPY (SIRT).

TOXICITY: A treatment-related adverse effect that may be detrimental to the recipient's health. The level of toxicity associated with a treatment will vary depending on the attributes of the treatment itself and the condition the drug is being used to treat.

TREATMENT TRIALS: Refers to trials which test new treatments, new combinations of drugs, or new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy.

ULTRASOUND (US) SCAN: This method of scanning uses sound waves with frequencies above the audible range for humans. Pulses of ultrasound are sent to build images, also called sonograms, of internal structures, including tumours, by recording and interpreting the echoes. The reporting of ultrasound scans is dependent upon the skill of the operator in detecting lesions particular to the disease in question.  

UVEAL MELANOMA (UM): Refers to melanomas that occur within the eye’s pigmented uveal tract. The three main types within this are Choroidal Melanoma, Ciliary Body Melanoma and Iris Melanoma. The majority of uveal melanomas are choroidal melanomas. This is the term used in medical circles, because OCULAR MELANOMA brackets both uveal and conjunctival melanomas which are essentially different diseases.

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