“I think it’s really important that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”
A trial to see if selenium and vitamin E can help stop early stage bladder cancer coming back (SELENIB)
This trial was done to find out if taking selenium and vitamin E supplements can reduce the chance of early bladder cancer coming back (recurring).
The trial was supported by Cancer Research UK. It was open for people to join between 2007 and 2011. The team published the results in 2023.
More about this trial
Doctors usually treat non muscle invasive bladder cancer with surgery. After that, they may give chemotherapy into the bladder, or immunotherapy such as BCG. But sometimes the cancer comes back or starts to grow again.
Selenium and vitamin E are nutrients found in a healthy balanced diet. These nutrients may reduce the risk of getting some types of cancers, including bladder cancer. But researchers wanted to find out if taking selenium and vitamin E supplements can help people who already have bladder cancer.
There were 4 treatment groups in this trial:
- group 1 took selenium tablets and vitamin E capsules
- group 2 took selenium tablets and dummy (placebo) capsules
- group 3 took placebo tablets and vitamin E capsules
- group 4 took placebo tablets and placebo capsules
They took the tablets and capsules for up to 5 years.
The main aim of this trial was to find out whether these supplements can reduce the risk of early bladder cancer coming back.
Summary of results
It took longer to find people to join the trial than the research team were expecting. They decided to close the trial a bit earlier than planned.
A total of 270 people joined the trial. They were put into a treatment group at random:
- 69 had selenium and vitamin E
- 65 had selenium and the vitamin E placebo
- 71 had the selenium placebo and vitamin E
- 65 had the selenium placebo and the vitamin E placebo
The trial team looked the number of people whose cancer had started to grow again.
The results showed there was no difference between those who took selenium and those who didn’t. But the cancer came back in more people who took vitamin E than those who didn’t.
The trial team calculated the number of people whose cancer is not likely to come back within 5 years of joining the trial.
- just over half (53%) of those who took selenium
- just over half (52%) of those who didn’t take selenium
- less than half (46%) of those who took vitamin E
- more than half (60%) of those who didn’t take vitamin E
They also looked at whether the cancer got worse (progressed), how many people had died and how long people lived. They found this was similar in all the groups.
No one taking part had any side effects caused by the selenium tablets or the vitamin E capsules.
The trial team concluded that:
- selenium doesn’t change the risk of bladder cancer coming back
- vitamin E may increase the risk of bladder cancer coming back
- neither selenium nor vitamin E affected how long people lived
Sometimes trials show that something isn’t useful for a particular type or stage of cancer. But these trials are important and still add to our knowledge and understanding of cancer and how to treat it.
More detailed information
There is more information about this research in the reference below.
Please note, the information we link to here is not in plain English. It has been written for healthcare professionals and researchers.
Selenium and Vitamin E for Prevention of Non–Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer Recurrence and Progression. A Randomized Clinical Trial.
R T Bryan and others
JAMA, 2023. Volume 6, issue 10.
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on the information in the article above. This has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Professor Richard T Bryan
Birmingham and the Black Country Comprehensive Local Research Network
Cancer Research UK
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
School of Cancer Sciences (University of Birmingham)
This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/05/28.