| January 24, 2002
University of Pennsylvania Cancer
Center Offers Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial Using Selenium
and Vitamin E
PA) - Prostate cancer is the second-deadliest form of
cancer, after lung cancer, for American men. According
to the American Cancer Society, about 189,000 men in
the US will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and more
than 31,200 are expected to die of the disease in just
this year alone. To help combat such alarming numbers,
researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Cancer
Center are looking for healthy men age 55 and older
to participate in a study to determine if the two dietary
supplements- selenium and vitamin E- can prevent prostate
Selenium, a natural mineral found in multivitamins and
in many foods such as grains, corn, fish and animal
organ meats, was originally investigated as a potential
method of preventing skin cancer. "Previous research
with vitamin E and selenium, in studies focusing on
other types of cancer, suggested that together these
nutrients might also prevent prostate cancer,"
says S. Bruce Malkowicz, MD, associate professor
of Urology and principal investigator of the study.
"What makes this study so appealing is that taking
vitamin E and selenium, a natural vitamin and mineral
found in many common foods, is completely non-toxic
when taken in regulated dosages."
Penn, the coordinating site for 15 other Pennsylvania
locations, is one of more than 400 sites in the United
States, Puerto Rico, and Canada recruiting participants
for this trial which is the largest-ever for prostate
cancer prevention. The Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer
Prevention Trial, or SELECT, is sponsored by the National
Cancer Institute and the Southwest Oncology Group. It
will include a total of 32,400 men and may take up to
12 years to complete.
Men of all races and ethnic background are encouraged
to participate in the trial. African-American men have
the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world
and are especially encouraged to consider joining the
trial. The disease also strikes black men at a younger
age, so they are eligible to enroll in the study at
age 50, vs. age 55 for other racial and ethnic groups.
There is no upper age limit for participation in the
Selenium and vitamin E are antioxidants, capable of
neutralizing toxins known as "free radicals,"
that might otherwise damage the genetic material of
cells and possibly lead to cancer. These two naturally
occurring nutrients were chosen for study because of
the inadvertent results of two other large cancer prevention
trials, one for non-melanoma skin cancer and the other
for lung, in which prostate cancer rates were significantly
"This trial is the critical next step for pursuing
the promising leads we've seen for prostate cancer prevention,"
said Malkowicz. "The only way to determine the
real value of these supplements for prostate cancer
is to do a large clinical trial focused specifically
on this disease."
Study participants will be followed for five years and
only have to visit the study site once every six months.
Men may be able to participate in the SELECT trial if
- Are age 55 or older; age 50 or older for black men;
- Have never had prostate cancer and have not had
any other cancer, except non-melanoma skin cancer,
in the last five years;
- Are generally in good health.
For more information about the selenium and vitamin
E prostate cancer prevention trial at the University
of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, please call 1-800-789-PENN
and ask for the SELECT study.
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