Selenium in the Treatment of Radiation-Associated Lymphedemas
Heather Jones, MD
Last Modified: November 5, 2001
Presenter: F. Bruns
Presenter's Affiliation: Department of Radiotherapy and Radiation Oncology, University Hospital, Muenster, Germany
Type of Session: Reporting
: Lymphedema is a relatively common side effect after surgical and/or radiotherapeutic treatment of lymph node areas. It can also be seen due to tumor compression of the lymphatic channels. There are some preliminary studies that selenium, a popular antioxidant, may have an antiedematous effect. This study was designed to evaluate the impact of oral selenium in the treatment of lymphedema of the trunk, the extremities, and the head and neck region in the radiation oncology setting.
The results suggest that sodium selenite has a positive effect on acute and chronic lymphedemas in different body sites. The treatment is well tolerated by the patients and easy to deliver. Overall, the treatment was well tolerated by all patients. It is very inexpensive and has a high cost-effectiveness ratio.
Many cancer patients attempt to alleviate the sequelae of cancer therapy with the use of unconventional medical therapies. One popular intervention is the use of the antioxidant selenium. This small, yet interesting study indicates that selenium my benefit a subset of patients with chronic lymphedema. This is a small study and it is not clear if the resolution acute edema in the head and neck patients was simply due to natural recovery from therapy or drug effect. Nonetheless, the use of selenium appears feasible and cost effective and should be studied in a prospective randomized fashion.