DOI: 10.3390/nu15173827 ISSN:

Selenium in Cancer Rehabilitation—A Retrospective Study from a Specialized Clinic

Christina Pfister, Joerg Schoenemann
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Background: Micronutrient deficiencies are common at the time of cancer diagnosis and are associated with worse prognosis. Little is known about them in cancer rehabilitation. Methods: Data from routine health-related quality of life (HRQOL) were analyzed at an inpatient cancer rehabilitation center. Rehabilitation patients completed the EORTC QLQ-C30 questionnaire before and after multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment and three months after discharge. Selenium and zinc status were measured in whole blood at these three time points. In case of selenium deficiency, up to 600 µg selenium per day as sodium selenite was supplemented for three weeks during and for three months after rehabilitation. Results: A total of 271 patients (breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer) were included in the analysis. There was clinically meaningful improvement in many domains of the EORTC QLQ-C30 during rehabilitation. However, the effect often waned in the three months after. Prevalence for selenium deficiency varied between 34 to 90% depending on cancer type (breast < colon < pancreas). In contrast, zinc deficiency was rare. Daily selenium supplementation of 600 µg was more efficient to correct selenium deficiency compared to 300 µg selenium per day. Rehabilitation and increasing selenium status after rehabilitation were associated with improved global quality of life, physical and emotional functioning, and fatigue. In cancer patients with decreasing selenium status, values of global quality of life, physical and emotional functioning, and fatigue were back to the values at the beginning of rehabilitation. Conclusions: Selenium deficiency is common in cancer patients admitted to a cancer rehabilitation clinic. Selenium supplementation during rehabilitation effectively corrected selenium deficiency in most cases. The positive effects of rehabilitation persisted longer when selenium status did not decrease after rehabilitation.

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