Understanding Study Results

A quick guide to what study results described on this site mean for patients:

Examples of beneficial outcomes associated with cancer remission, control, reduced risk of recurrence and/or extended survival:

  • Increased apoptosis (programmed cell death)
  • Anti-angiogenesis or reduced angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels)
  • Reduced proliferation
  • Reduced metastasis
  • Improved autophagy (cell self-cleansing)
  • Increase in natural killer cells (NK cells) or NK cell activity
  • Longer telomeres
  • Lower levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)

Examples of beneficial outcomes associated with symptom relief and/or improved quality of life:

  • Improved appetite
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduced hot flashes
  • Reduced peripheral neuropathy
  • Reduced cortisol levels
  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced fatigue

Examples of beneficial outcomes associated with improved treatment effectiveness:

  • Enhanced effectiveness of chemotherapy
  • Favorable gene expression
  • Lower PSAs (prostate cancer)
  • Reversed  resistance to chemotherapy
  • Lower levels of insulin-like growth factor

Examples of beneficial outcomes associated with improved health and resilience during treatment or improved response to treatment:

  • Chemoprotection
  • Radioprotection

Examples of harmful or unwanted outcomes:

  • Ileus
  • Increased proliferation
  • Metastasis
  • Negative interactions with treatment
  • Necrosis
  • Sarcopenia

Ablate: remove material from the surface of an object, such as an organ; ablation can be done by scraping, cutting, or heating tissue

Adjunct therapy: a therapy connected or added to a main treatment or therapy, not used alone

Analgesic: acting to relieve pain

Angiogenesis: the development of new blood vessels

Anti-angiogenic: preventing or disrupting the development of new blood vessels (angiogenesis)

Arthralgia: joint pain

Ascites: accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen, causing abdominal swelling

Autogenics: training to self-produce a feeling of warmth and heaviness throughout your body

Autophagy: consumption of the body’s own tissue as a metabolic process occurring in fasting, starvation and certain diseases; cellular self-cleansing

BCCT: Beyond Conventional Cancer Therapies (this website)

Black box warning: a warning included with drugs that have substantial concerns, particularly ones that may lead to death or serious injury, typically displayed within a box in the prescribing information. These "boxed" or "black box" warnings may be required by the US Food and Drug Administration.

CAM: complementary and alternative medicine

Cachexia (adjective cachectic): weakness and wasting of the body due to severe chronic illness

Chelate: to bind with metals; chelating agents are taken as part of detoxification therapies to bind to metal atoms and draw them out of the body

Chemoprevention or chemopreventive effect: the use of medication to lower the risk or prevent cancer in healthy people

Chemoprotection or chemoprotective effect: protecting healthy tissue from some of the side effects caused by certain anticancer drugs, such as chemotherapy drugs

Contraindication: a symptom, condition or other factor that makes a particular treatment or procedure inadvisable

Crossover experimental design:  A study design in which subjects (patients) receive different treatments or no treatment during successive periods of study. The simplest crossover design is the two-period crossover: during the first period, patients receive one of two treatments (treatment A) and during the second period patients receive the other treatment (treatment B). Half the patients receive an AB sequence and the other half a BA sequence.

Cryotherapy: use of freezing or near-freezing temperatures therapeutically; therapy can be local or general (whole-body)

Curated: selected, organized, and presented, typically using professional or expert knowledge

Cytotoxicity: having destructive action on certain cells

Dysphagia: difficulty swallowing

Edema: an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body, often marked by swelling

Efficacy: the ability to produce a desired or intended result; effectiveness

Enteritis: inflammation of the intestine, especially the small intestine, usually accompanied by diarrhea

Epigenetics: the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Epigenetic changes are caused by turning genes “on” or “off” or altering their function in other ways, but not through mutations.

Etiology, etiologic: Etiology is the study of causation or origin; etologic factors relate to the causes or origin of disease.

Gleason Score: a grading system used to determine the aggressiveness of prostate cancer, and which can be used to choose appropriate treatment options.  The Gleason Score ranges from 1 to 5 and rates how much the cancer from a biopsy looks like healthy tissue (lower score) or abnormal tissue (higher score). Most cancers score a grade of 3 or higher. Since prostate tumors are often made up of cancerous cells that have different grades, two grades are assigned for each patient. A primary grade is given to describe the cells that make up the largest area of the tumor and a secondary grade is given to describe the cells of the next largest area. Thus a Gleason Score may be written as 3+4=7. Typical Gleason Scores range from 6 to 10. The higher the Gleason Score, the more likely that the cancer will grow and spread quickly. See more at Prostate Cancer: Stages and Grades from or Gleason Score from Prostate Conditions Education Council.

Histology: the study of the microscopic structure of tissues

HT: Healing Touch

Hyperinsulinemia: a condition in which excess levels of insulin circulate in the blood relative to the level of glucose

Ideation: the formation of ideas or concepts

Ileus: a painful obstruction of the ileum or other part of the intestine

Induration: hardness, such as breast induration following surgery or radiation

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF): High levels of IGF-1 are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer whereas some of IGF’s binding proteins (IGFBP’s) seem to be protective. High intakes of dietary protein, especially animal and soy protein, appear to increase IGF-1. 

Leukopenia: a condition of an abnormally low number of white cells in the blood

Lymphedema: swelling caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system, most commonly caused by lymph node removal or damage due to cancer treatment

Metastasis: the development of secondary malignant growths (tumors) at a separate location from a primary site of cancer

Modulate: exert control or influence

Mucositis: inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract, usually as an adverse effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for cancer

N&V: nausea and vomiting

Natural killer cells (NK cells): a type of lymphocyte (a white blood cell) and a component of the innate immune system. NK cells play a major role in the body’s rejection of tumors.

Necrosis: the death of most or all of the cells in an organ or tissue due to disease, injury, or failure of the blood supply

Neoadjuvant therapy: therapeutic agents before a main treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy before surgery

Neoplasms: a new and abnormal growth of tissue in some part of the body, especially as a characteristic of cancer

Neuroendocrine: involving both the neural and endocrine functions

Neurotoxicity:  toxicity from a biological, chemical, or physical agent producing an adverse effect on the structure or function of the central and/or peripheral nervous system.

Nutraceutical: a fortified food, dietary supplement or other food that is regarded to provide health or medical benefits beyond its basic nutritional value

Neutropenia: a condition of an abnormally low number of neutrophils in the blood, leading to increased susceptibility to infection

ONCAs: an acronym for off-label, overlooked and novel cancer approaches, these therapies and other approaches have been developed by scientifically trained investigators operating both inside and outside mainstream cancer organizations; see our ONCAs page for a fuller description

Peripheral neuropathy: damage to the peripheral nerves outside the brain and spinal cord

Placebo: a pill, medicine, or procedure—thought to be both harmless and ineffective—prescribed for the psychological benefit to the patient or as a sham treatment in a study to allow a comparison to a therapy of interest.

Pleural effusion: the build-up of excess fluid between the layers of the pleura outside the lungs

Preclinical study: A study testing a drug, a procedure or another medical treatment in animals. The aim of a preclinical study is to collect data in support of the safety of the new treatment. Preclinical studies are required before clinical trials in humans can be started.

Proliferation: the growth or production of cells; a rapid and often excessive spread or increase

Protocol: a package of therapies combining and preferably integrating various therapies and products into a cohesive design for care. On this site, various published programs, approaches and protocols are described and referenced under the general term "programs and protocols."

PSA, or prostate-specific antigen: a protein produced by both normal and malignant cells of the prostate gland; the blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer

Radioprevention or radiopreventive effect: the use of radiation to lower the risk or prevent cancer in healthy people

Radioprotection or radioprotective effect: protecting healthy tissue from some of the side effects caused by radiation

RCT: randomized controlled trial, a study design in which subjects are randomly assigned to either an experimental group or a control group to compare the outcomes from different treatments

Rhabdomyolysis: breakdown of muscle tissue that releases a damaging protein into the blood

Sarcopenia: loss of muscle tissue

SIO: Society for Integrative Oncology, a multidisciplinary professional organization for integrative oncology

Sleep latency: the length of time to transition from full wakefulness to sleep

Stomatitis: inflammation of the mouth

Synergistic: increasing the effectiveness of one or more of properties of another chemical or process; therapies that are synergistic may show greater benefits than adding the benefits of using each therapy individually. For example, if therapy A reduces an effect by 20 percent, and therapy B reduces that effect by 15 percent, but together they reduce the effect by 70 percent (greater than the 35 percent expected by adding A and B together), this is a synergistic effect.

TCM: traditional Chinese medicine

Telomerase, also called telomere terminal transferase: an enzyme made of protein and RNA subunits that elongates chromosomes by adding telomere sequences to the end of existing chromosomes. Telomerase is found in fetal tissues, adult germ cells, and also tumor cells. Normal body cells do not regularly use telomerase, and so they age. If telomerase is activated in a cell, the cell will continue to grow and divide.

Telomere: a "cap" at the end of each strand of DNA that protects chromosomes; telomeres become shorter with each cell replication, eventually telomeres becoming too short, causing cells to age, stop functioning properly and finally die a normal cell death (apoptosis).

Treatment plan: usually starting with an established protocol (see above), a treatment plan will consider your specific medical condition, your age and fitness, your preferences for treatment and other factors. Your treatment plan may evolve over time as your healthcare team assesses your response to treatments.

TT: Therapeutic Touch®

Have you found another term or acronym on the BCCT site that we should add to this list? Please use the comment box below to let us know.

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