Urologic Oncology 6 (2001)
VA plays vital role in the largest study ever for
prevention of prostate cancer
WASHINGTON–The U.S. Department of Veterans Af-
fairs (VA), Cooperative Studies Program is participating in
a National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsored study that is
the first clinical trial designed to determine if dietary sup-
plements (Vitamin E and selenium) prevent prostate cancer.
VA will provide nearly 40 sites and 6,000 patients for
the 12-year Selenium Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial
(SELECT) that will begin July 25, 2001. The study is in-
tended to produce a new understanding of the disease that is
a leading cause of cancer deaths among elderly men.
“VA is extremely pleased to collaborate with the NCI on
this important clinical trial,” said Thomas L. Garthwaite,
M.D., VA Under Secretary for Health. “Through the com-
bined resources and efforts of these two federal agencies,
we hope to develop significant new insight into the preven-
tion of prostate cancer.”
The VA Cooperative Studies Program (CSP), directed
by John R. Feussner, M.D., M.P.H., will supply essential
study management services in support of SELECT. Its co-
ordinating center in Perry Point, MD, will conduct data
management, statistical analysis, and provide administrative
The CSP Clinical Research Pharmacy Coordinating Cen-
ter in Albuquerque, NM—the nation’s only such publicly
funded and clinical research pharmacy approved by the
Food and Drug Administration—will coordinate vitamin
packaging and distribution for the study. The Massachu-
setts VA Epidemiology Research and Information Center
(MAVERIC) will be the coordinating office for all VA
“Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in the VA
healthcare system and measures to prevent it would be of
great impact to the VA and the nation’s veterans,” said
Michael Gaziano, M.D., director of MAVERIC.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the
United States and is the leading cause of cancer death
among elderly U.S. men. Approximately 209,900 men in
the United States are diagnosed with prostate cancer every
year. Nearly 42,000 deaths result from the disease annually.
Prostate cancer rates nationally and in VA are also higher
proportionally among African Americans.
In 1998, there were more than 600,000 veterans hospital-
ized in VA medical centers, of which 19% were African
Americans. In 1996, 28% of the 5,172 veterans hospitalized
in VA medical centers with a principal diagnosis of prostate
cancer were African Americans.
Within the main SELECT trial, the VA Cooperative
Studies program will also be conducting an independent
analysis of possible epidemiological and genetic risk factors
for prostate cancer among veteran patients. This additional,
veteran-only study will allow VA researchers to study po-
tential important factors that may explain the development
of prostate cancer.
The main risk factors for prostate cancer include being
over age 55, being of African-American heritage, or having a
father or brother with prostate cancer. Further investigation of
the link between dietary history and other potential factors and
the risk of prostate cancer may yield important explanations
for the reported racial differences in prostate cancer rates.
VA research provides improved medical care for veter-
ans, as well as the general population. Through its unique
affiliation with medical schools, VA plays a crucial role in
educating future physicians in research and clinically ori-