Next Article in Journal
The Morita-Baylis-Hillman Reaction: Insights into Asymmetry and Reaction Mechanisms by Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry
Next Article in Special Issue
Forming Glasses from Se and Te
Previous Article in Journal
Evaluation of Antioxidant and Antibacterial Activities of Aqueous, Methanolic and Alkaloid Extracts from Mitragyna Speciosa (Rubiaceae Family) Leaves
Previous Article in Special Issue
Chemistry of the M (M=Fe, Ca, Ba)-Se-H2O Systems at 25 °C
Open AccessReview

Selenium in Oncology: From Chemistry to Clinics

Department of Radiotherapy and Radiation Oncology, Franziskus Hospital, Kiskerstraße 26, D- 33615 Bielefeld, Germany
Institute for Experimental Endocrinology, Charité Berlin, Germany
Department of Otolaryngology, Südharz Hospital Nordhausen, Germany
Department of Internal Medicine, St. Anna Hospital, Herne, Germany
Department of Radiotherapy, Lippe Hospital Lemgo, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
On behalf of the German Working Group Trace Elements and Electrolytes in Oncology (AKTE).
Molecules 2009, 14(10), 3975-3988;
Received: 11 August 2009 / Revised: 26 September 2009 / Accepted: 30 September 2009 / Published: 12 October 2009
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selenium and Tellurium Chemistry)
PDF [150 KB, uploaded 18 June 2014]


The essential trace element selenium, which is a crucial cofactor in the most important endogenous antioxidative systems of the human body, is attracting more and more the attention of both laypersons and expert groups. The interest of oncologists mainly focuses in the following clinical aspects: radioprotection of normal tissues, radiosensitizing in malignant tumors, antiedematous effect, prognostic impact of selenium, and effects in primary and secondary cancer prevention. Selenium is a constituent of the small group of selenocysteine-containing selenoproteins and elicits important structural and enzymatic functions. Selenium deficiency has been linked to increased infection risk and adverse mood states. It has been shown to possess cancer-preventive and cytoprotective activities in both animal models and humans. It is well established that Se has a key role in redox regulation and antioxidant function, and hence in membrane integrity, energy metabolism and protection against DNA damage. Recent clinical trials have shown the importance of selenium in clinical oncology. Our own clinical study involving 48 patients suggest that selenium has a positive effect on radiation-associated secondary lymphedema in patients with limb edemas, as well as in the head and neck region, including endolaryngeal edema. Another randomized phase III study of our group was performed to examine the cytoprotective properties of selenium in radiation oncology. The aim was to evaluate whether sodium selenite is able to compensate a preexisting selenium deficiency and to prevent radiation induced diarrhea in adjuvant radiotherapy for pelvic gynecologic malignancies. Through this study, the significant benefits of sodium selenite supplementation with regards to selenium deficiency and radiotherapy induced diarrhea in patients with cervical and uterine cancer has been shown for the first time in a prospective randomized trial. Survival data imply that supplementation with selenium does not interfere with the positive biological effects of radiation treatment and might constitute a valuable adjuvant therapy option especially in marginally supplied individuals. More recently there were emerging concerns coming up from two large clinical prevention trials (NPC, SELECT), that selenium increases the possible risk of developing diabetes type II. Despite obvious flaws of both studies and good counterarguments, a controversial debate remains on the possible advantage and risks of selenium in cancer prevention. However, in the light of the recent clinical trials the potential benefits of selenium supplementation in tumor patients are undeniable, even if further research is needed. View Full-Text
Keywords: selenium; oncology; cancer prevention; cytoprotection; radioprotection; radical scavenger selenium; oncology; cancer prevention; cytoprotection; radioprotection; radical scavenger

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Micke, O.; Schomburg, L.; Buentzel, J.; Kisters, K.; Muecke, R. Selenium in Oncology: From Chemistry to Clinics. Molecules 2009, 14, 3975-3988.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Molecules EISSN 1420-3049 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top