Newly Diagnosed Colorectal Cancer – NCCN Recommends Universal Screening for Lynch Syndrome

March 28th, 2014

SUMMARY: Lynch Syndrome (Hereditary NonPolyposis Colorectal Cancer – HNPCC), is an autosomal dominant inherited disorder associated with increased risk of colorectal, endometrial, ovary, gastric, small bowel, pancreatic, brain, ureter or renal pelvis cancer. In the United States, approximately 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed each year of which 3 to 5 percent are caused by Lynch Syndrome (LS). One in 35 patients with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer is related to Lynch Syndrome. Four genes, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2 are involved in the repair of mistakes that occur during DNA replication. When any of these genes are mutated, repair of DNA replication mistakes is prevented resulting in continuous division of abnormal cells and possibly cancer. The EPCAM gene lies next to the MSH2 gene on chromosome 2 and mutations in the EPCAM gene can cause the MSH2 gene to be inactivated, interrupting DNA repair and leading to accumulation of DNA replication errors and possible malignancy. A Clinical Diagnosis of Lynch Syndrome can be made based on personal and family history if at least three relatives have a malignancy associated with Lynch Syndrome such as colorectal, endometrial, small bowel, ureter or renal pelvis cancer. In addition the following criteria should be met: • One relative must be a first-degree relative of the other two. • At least two successive generations must be affected. • At least one relative with a Lynch syndrome associated cancer should be diagnosed before 50 years of age. • Familial Adenomatous Polyposis should be excluded. • Tumors should be verified whenever possible. Because family history can sometimes be difficult to obtain or confirm NCCN in those circumstances has recommended screening all newly diagnosed colorectal cancer patients for Lynch syndrome. Germline defects/mutations in the mismatch repair genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2 results in microsatellite instability in tumors. Tumors are described as MSI-High when they have changes in 2 or more, of the 5 microsatellite markers. So, High levels of MSI within a tumor are suggestive of defective DNA mismatch repair. ImmunoHistoChemistry (IHC) staining of tumor tissue is performed for protein expression of the four mismatch repair genes known to be mutated in Lynch Syndrome (MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2). IHC test is described as normal when all 4 mismatch repair proteins are normally expressed suggesting that an underlying mismatch repair gene mutation is unlikely. When IHC test is abnormal, it means that that at least one of the 4 mismatch repair proteins is not expressed and an inherited mutation may be present in the gene related to that protein. This can be further confirmed by mutation analysis of the corresponding gene. Screening tests for Lynch syndrome include IHC staining of tumor tissue for protein expression of the four mismatch repair genes and tumor evaluation for MSI. In LS, more than 90% of the tumors are MSI-H (microsatellite instability-high) and/or lack expression of at least one of the mismatch repair proteins by IHC staining and there is a 96% correlation between IHC and MSI when used as a screening test for LS. Approximately 5% of tumors that display MSI may have normal protein expression for the four mismatch repair genes. It should be noted that an abnormal MSI and/or IHC test in colon cancer patients is not diagnostic of Lynch syndrome but can be a useful screening test. This is because even though MSI in the tumor tissue is pathognomonic of Lynch syndrome, approximately 15% of patients with sporadic colorectal cancers exhibit tumors with high MSI as a result of somatic MLH1 promoter hypermethylation. Further, the majority of colon cancer tumors that lack protein expression on IHC staining of MLH1 (often coexisting with loss of PMS2) are often due to an acquired genetic defect. If the IHC indicates absence of MLH1 protein expression, tumor should be tested for BRAF mutation V600E which can be seen in sporadic colorectal cancers but rarely found in patients who have Lynch Syndrome. Once a diagnosis of Lynch Syndrome is made, at risk family members should undergo colonoscopic evaluation at 20-25 years of age or 2-5 years prior to the earliest colon cancer, if it is diagnosed before age 25 and is repeated every 1-2 years. Prophylactic hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (BSO) should be considered by women who have completed childbearing. NCCN Guidelines Version 1.2014 Lynch Syndrome

Efficacy and safety of neoadjuvant pertuzumab and trastuzumab in women with locally advanced, inflammatory, or early HER2-positive breast cancer (NeoSphere) a randomised multicentre, open-label, phase 2 trial

March 28th, 2014

SUMMARY: The FDA on September 30, 2013 granted accelerated approval to PERJETA® (Pertuzumab) for use in combination with HERCEPTIN® (Trastuzumab) and other chemotherapy for the neoadjuvant (preoperative) treatment of patients with HER2-positive, locally advanced, inflammatory, or early stage breast cancer (either greater than 2 cm in diameter or with positive lymph nodes), as part of a complete treatment regimen for early breast cancer. Following surgery, patients should continue to receive HERCEPTIN® to complete one year of treatment. The HER family of receptors consist of HER1, HER2, HER3 and HER4. These proteins are transmembrane tyrosine kinases and are involved in normal cell growth and differentiation. HER1 is also known as Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor or EGFR. These receptors are activated following ligand binding, receptor pairing or dimerization and phosphorylation. This dimerization (receptor pairing) occurs often within the HER family of receptors. This has been no ligand identified for HER2 receptor, although it is able to form homo and heterodimers with other members of the HER family readily. Dimerization of HER2 and HER3 is believed to produce the strongest mitogenic signaling and activates two important pathways that regulate cell survival and growth – Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathway and PhosphoInositide 3-Kinase (PI3K) pathway. For this reason inhibiting HER2 dimerization appears to be an important step in the treatment of cancer. Overexpression of HER2 in breast cancer has been associated with higher risk for relapse as well as overall survival. Approximately 20 percent of breast cancers are HER2-positive. HERCEPTIN® is a humanized monoclonal antibody targeting HER2. It binds to the extracellular subdomain IV of the receptor and disrupts ligand independent HER2 downstream cell signaling pathways. PERJETA® is a recombinant, humanized, monoclonal antibody that binds to the HER2 subdomain II and blocks ligand dependent HER2 heterodimerization with other HER receptors, ie. HER3, HER1 and HER4. Thus HERCEPTIN® along with PERJETA® provide a more comprehensive blockade of HER2 driven signaling pathways. The accelerated approval of PERJETA® for the neoadjuvant treatment of breast cancer was based on a randomized, multicenter, open-label, phase II trial, in which 417 patients with HER2-positive, operable, locally advanced or inflammatory breast cancer (T2-4d), were randomly assigned to receive preoperative therapy with either HERCEPTIN® plus TAXOTERE® (Docetaxel), PERJETA® plus HERCEPTIN® and TAXOTERE®, PERJETA® plus HERCEPTIN® or PERJETA® plus TAXOTERE®. Patients in the three drug group received preoperative therapy with PERJETA®, HERCEPTIN® and TAXOTERE® every 3 weeks for a total of 4 cycles and following surgery, all patients received 3 cycles of Fluorouracil, ELLENCE® (Epirubicin), and CYTOXAN® (Cyclophosphamide) – (FEC) IV every 3 weeks and HERCEPTIN® was continued every 3 weeks for a total of one year of therapy. The primary endpoint was pathological Complete Response (pCR) rate defined as the absence of invasive cancer in the breast. The FDA definition of pCR is the absence of invasive cancer in the breast and lymph nodes. All treatment groups were well balanced. Seven percent of patients had inflammatory breast cancer, 32% had locally advanced cancer and 70% had clinically node-positive breast cancer. Forty-seven percent of the patients had hormone receptor-positive disease. The FDA defined pCR rates were 39.3% in the PERJETA® plus HERCEPTIN® and TAXOTERE® group and 21.5% in the HERCEPTIN® plus TAXOTERE® group (P=0.0063). Of Interest, the pCR rates in the three drug group were lower in patients with hormone receptor positive tumors compared to patients with hormone receptor negative tumors. The most common adverse events in the three drug group were alopecia, diarrhea, nausea and neutropenia. Other significant side effects included decreased cardiac function, infusion-related reactions, hypersensitivity reactions and anaphylaxis. Based on clinical studies, for the neoadjuvant treatment of breast cancer, PERJETA® should be administered every 3 weeks for 3 to 6 cycles as part of one of the following treatment regimens for early breast cancer. • Four preoperative cycles of PERJETA® in combination with HERCEPTIN® and TAXOTERE® followed by 3 postoperative cycles of Fluorouracil, ELLENCE® and CYTOXAN® (FEC). • Three preoperative cycles of FEC alone followed by 3 preoperative cycles of PERJETA® in combination with TAXOTERE® and HERCEPTIN®. • Six preoperative cycles of PERJETA® in combination with TAXOTERE®, Carboplatin, and HERCEPTIN® (TCH). Following surgery, patients should continue to receive HERCEPTIN® to complete 1 year of treatment. The accelerated approval by the FDA was based solely on the improved pCR rate with the three drug combination with no demonstrable improvement in event-free survival or overall survival. A confirmatory phase III trial is underway, with results expected in 2016. Gianni L, Pienkowski T, Im YH, et al. Lancet Oncol. 2012;13:25-32

The Role of Human Papillomavirus in Nongenital Cancers

March 20th, 2014

SUMMARY: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a double stranded DNA virus and is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. It was responsible for over 25,000 cancers between 2004 and 2007 in the U.S. and the incidence is rapidly increasing due to changes in sexual practices. Even though the low risk HPV types such as HPV-6 and HPV-11 have been well known to cause benign lesions such as condylomata (genital warts), low grade squamous intraepithelial lesions of the cervix and laryngeal papillomas, the high risk HPV types such as HPV-16 and HPV-18 have been of major concern because of their malignant potential. Since the implication of HPV-16 and HPV-18 in cervical cancer dating back to the early 1990’s, these HPV subtypes have also been found responsible for 45-90% of oropharyngeal cancers and 90% of anal cancers. HPV in tumor tissue can be detected by immunohistochemistry testing for P16 expression and confirmed with HPV DNA PCR. Chronic immunosuppression as seen in patients with HIV and in patients undergoing solid organ transplantation, may increase the risk for HPV infections. Patients with HPV associated oropharyngeal cancer typically are younger males, tend not to smoke or drink and present with poorly differentiated, non keratinizing tumors with basaloid morphology, compared to those with HPV negative tumors. Clinical characteristics of HPV positive oropharyngeal cancer patients with best outcomes include, those with fewer than 10 pack year smoking history and lower tumor stage. Several retrospective trials as well as some small prospective studies have shown that HPV positive oropharygeal cancers when treated with chemoradiation have significantly higher response rates, progression free survival, overall survival and better local and regional disease control. In the TAX 324 randomized phase III trial, patients received induction treatment with 3 cycles of TAXOTERE®, Cisplatin and 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) or Cisplatin and 5-FU followed by chemoradiation with concurrent PARAPLATIN® (Carboplatin). Even though the 3 drug induction treatment group had superior outcomes compared to those who received 2 drug induction regimen in the intent to treat population, on retrospective analysis, patients with HPV positive oropharyngeal cancer had a significantly longer 5 year progression free survival (78% vs 28%) and overall survival, with an 80% reduction in mortality (HR=0.20, P<0.0001), compared to HPV negative patients, regardless of induction treatment. Other studies have shown that HPV positive patients who undergo surgery alone for oropharyngeal cancer do not appear to reap these favorable benefits, suggesting that the improved prognosis in the HPV positive patients with oropharyngeal cancer is related to chemotherapy and radiation. It also appears that HPV positive patients with oropharyngeal cancer have a better prognosis with treatment when their tumors are P53 wild type and express P16. With regards to EGFR and P16, there appears to be an inverse correlation between P16 and EGFR expression and patients with tumors expressing P16 and not EGFR have a significantly higher 5 year disease free and overall survival compared to those whose tumors overexpress EGFR but not P16. This information may have significant therapeutic implications and studies are underway trying to address this group of patients with targeted and less intense treatments. It should be noted that HPV positive status has a favorable prognostic value only for oropharyngeal primary cancers and not for other cancers of the head and neck.

With regards to anal carcinoma, there appears to be a relationship between cervical, anogenital and oropharyngeal cancer suggesting a genital-anal-oral transmission of HPV. Patients with HIV infection have a higher risk of developing HPV associated anal carcinoma and antiretroviral therapy does not decrease this risk. Anal Pap test is recommended annually for high risk patients including those with a history of anogental warts and women with abnormal cervical or vulvar cytology. For patients with anal carcinoma, positive HPV status does not confer a favorable prognosis as is the case for patients with oropharygeal carcinoma. GARDASIL®, a quadrivalent vaccine targeting HPV-6,11,16 and 18 as well as CERVARIX®, a bivalent vaccine targeting HPV-16 and 18 are presently available in the U.S. They are recommended for both females and males at an age as early as 9 years and given as a 3 shot series, to prevent HPV related Cervical Intraepithelial lesions/cervical cancer and genital warts/Anal Intraepithelial Neoplasia respectively. The authors conclude that HPV infection and associated malignancies are preventable and attempts should be made to eradicate this virus. Zandberg DP, Bhargava R, Badin S, et al. CA Cancer J Clin 2013;63:57-81

A phase 2, randomized trial of GVAX pancreas and CRS-207 immunotherapy versus GVAX alone in patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma Updated results

March 20th, 2014

SUMMARY: The authors in this study took a novel approach and tested a combination of two vaccines in patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Traditional vaccination against specific bacterial and viral infections involves the injection of the specific weakened bacteria/virus or a structural component of the bacteria or virus. The body then mounts an immune response and is ready to respond to an infection associated with that specific bacteria or virus. Use of vaccines in cancer treatment is based on the same principle. The two vaccines studied were GVAX and CRS-207. GVAX is an allogeneic whole cell vaccine developed from pancreatic cancer cell lines. These cancer cells are irradiated, to prevent them from dividing and are genetically modified to secrete GM-CSF (Granulocyte Macrophage Colony Stimulating Factor). GM-CSF is important for the growth and activation of dendritic cells also known as Antigen Presenting Cells. This vaccine when injected attracts the dendritic cells to the vaccine injection site and the dendritic cells in turn, pick up the antigens from the vaccine and present them to the patient’s immune system. The immune system then mounts a response by activating tumor specific T-cells. This vaccine therefore theoretically boosts the body’s immune system to fight the patient’s tumor, without causing collateral damage. The second vaccine CRS-207 is live-attenuated (weakened) Listeria monocytogenes bacterium which expresses mesothelin and stimulates innate and adaptive immunity. It is genetically engineered to elicit an immune response against the tumor-associated antigen mesothelin, which has been shown to be expressed at higher levels on pancreatic cancer cells than on normal cells. Previous studies have demonstrated that survival can be improved by induction of mesothelin specific T-cell responses. In this study, 90 patients with metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive two doses of GVAX followed by four doses of CRS-207 or six doses of GVAX alone. Treatment was given every 3 weeks and low-dose CYTOXAN® (Cyclophosphamide) was given IV, the day before GVAX in both groups, to inhibit regulatory (suppressive) T-cells. More than 80% of the patients had at least one prior treatment for metastatic disease and 50% had two or more prior treatments. The primary endpoint was overall survival. Secondary endpoints included safety, clinical and immune responses. At a planned interim analysis, the median overall survival was 6.1 months with the combination of two vaccines vs 3.9 months with GVAX alone (HR=0.54, P=0.011), a 46% reduction in risk of death with the combination immunotherapy. The median overall survival in patients who received three total doses which included at least two doses of GVAX and at least one dose of CRS-207 was 9.7 months compared to 4.6 months for GVAX alone (HR=0.44, P=0.0074), a 56% reduction in the risk of death. In the subgroup of patients who had had two or more prior chemotherapy regimens, combination immunotherapy given as third line therapy or greater resulted in a median overall survival of 5.1 months vs 3.7 months with GVAX alone (HR=0.34, P=0.001), a 66% reduction in risk of death. Stabilization of tumor marker CA19-9 was seen in 32% of patients receiving combination immunotherapy vs 13% in those who received GVAX alone (P=0.06). The one year survival probability doubled with the dual vaccine with an estimated one year survival of 24% for the combination immunotherapy group and 12% for the GVAX alone group. Toxicities included local reactions after GVAX and transient fevers, chills, and lymphopenia after CRS-207 administration. The authors concluded that immunotherapy with a combination of two vaccines improved overall survival in patients with metastatic pancreatic carcinoma, who have failed prior therapies. Le DT, Wang-Gillam A, Picozzi V, et al. J Clin Oncol 32, 2014 (suppl 3; abstr 177)

RAINBOW A global, phase III, randomized, double-blind study of ramucirumab plus paclitaxel versus placebo plus paclitaxel in the treatment of metastatic gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) and gastric adenocarcinoma following disease progression on first-line platinum- and fluoropyrimidine-containing combination therapy rainbow IMCL CP12-0922 (I4T-IE-JVBE)

March 5th, 2014

SUMMARY: It is estimated that there were approximately 21,600 new cases and 10,990 deaths from gastric cancer in the United States in 2013. The biology of gastric cancer appears to be different in different parts of the globe. Following progression after first line treatment for metastatic disease, the median survival is approximately 3 months. Ramucirumab is a human IgG1 monoclonal antibody that inhibits VEGF-receptor 2, unlike AVASTIN® (Bevacizumab) which inhibits VEGF-A. The RAINBOW study is an international, placebo-controlled, double-blind, phase III trial in which 665 patients with metastatic gastroesophageal junction or gastric adenocarcinoma, who had disease progression on or within 4 months after first-line platinum and fluoropyrimidine-based combination therapy, were included. Patients were randomly assigned to receive TAXOL® (Paclitaxel) 80 mg/m2 given on D1, 8, 15 along with Placebo (N=335) or the same dose and schedule of TAXOL® given along with Ramucirumab 8 mg/kg IV every 2 weeks (N=330), of a 28 day cycle. Treatment was continued until disease progression or unacceptable toxicities were noted. The primary endpoint was Overall Survival (OS). Secondary endpoints included Progression Free Survival (PFS), Objective Response Rate (ORR) and Time To Progression (TTP). The median OS for the combination of Ramucirumab and TAXOL® was 9.6 months compared to 7.4 months for Placebo and TAXOL® (P=0.016; HR=0.81), resulting in a 19% reduction in the risk of death with the Ramucirumab and TAXOL® combination. The secondary endpoints favored the Ramucirumab and TAXOL® combination as well. The median PFS was 4.4 months and 2.9 months (P<0.0001; HR=0.63), ORR was 28% and 16% (P<0.0001) and median TTP was 5.5 months and 3 months with the Ramucirumab and TAXOL® combination vs Placebo and TAXOL® combination respectively. As one would expect, treatment related adverse events were seen more frequently in the Ramucirumab and TAXOL® combination group. Significant were neutropenia, hypertension, fatigue and asthenia. The incidence of febrile neutropenia in the two treatment groups was however comparable (3.1% vs 2.4%). The authors concluded that the combination of Ramucirumab and TAXOL® significantly improved both progression-free and overall survival, with significantly improved disease control rates, in patients with metastatic gastroesophageal junction or gastric adenocarcinoma. Wilke H, Van Cutsem E, Oh SC, et al. J Clin Oncol 32, 2014 (suppl 3; abstr LBA7)


Effects of bisphosphonate treatment on recurrence and cause-specific mortality in women with early breast cancer a meta-analysis of individual patient data from randomised trials

March 5th, 2014

SUMMARY: Bisphosphonates are presently indicated for the treatment of osteoporosis. The approved bisphosphonates in the U.S. include FOSAMAX® (Alendronate), BONIVA® (Ibandronate), ACTONEL® (Risedronate) and RECLAST® (Zoledronic acid). Several trials conducted over the past 2 decades have suggested that bisphosphonates may have anti proliferative effect in patients with breast cancer. Data from several Women's Health Initiative (WHI) studies involving more than 150,000 healthy postmenopausal women, of whom 2216 used oral bisphosphonates, revealed that women taking bisphosphonates for osteoporosis had a 32% reduction in invasive breast cancer. The AZURE investigators conducted a study to determine whether the addition of RECLAST® (Zoledronic acid) to standard adjuvant therapy would improve disease outcomes in patients with early-stage breast cancer. They noted that in the subset analysis, the addition of RECLAST® significantly improved disease free survival and overall survival in postmenopausal patients, independent of estrogen receptor status, tumor stage, and lymph node involvement (N Engl J Med 2011;365:1396-1405). With this background, the authors belonging to the Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG), conducted a meta-analysis and reviewed data from 15 years of bisphosphonate trials, which included 36 trials of adjuvant bisphosphonates in breast cancer and involved over 17,000 pre and postmenopausal women. RECLAST® (Zoledronic acid) and Clodronate were the most common bisphosphonates used in these trials. The primary outcomes analyzed were time to distant recurrence, local recurrence, new second primary breast cancer (ipsilateral or contralateral), time to first distant recurrence (ignoring any previous locoregional or contralateral recurrences), and breast cancer mortality. Planned subset analyses included site of recurrence, site of first distant metastasis (bone vs other), menopausal status (pre, peri and post) type of bisphosphonate (aminobisphosphonates such as RECLAST® or Clodronate) and drug schedule of bisphosphonate therapy (for bone protection vs advanced cancer). Adjuvant bisphosphonates resulted in a 34% reduction in the risk of bone recurrence (P = 0.00001) and a 17% reduction in the risk of breast cancer death (P =0.004). This benefit was seen regardless of estrogen receptor status, nodal status or whether chemotherapy was used or not. Bisphosphonates had no significant impact on non-breast cancer related deaths, contralateral breast cancer or loco-regional recurrence. In this meta-analysis, all these benefits were only seen in postmenopausal women and premenopausal women had no benefit on any disease outcomes with bisphosphonates. The authors emphasized that low estrogen environment as is seen in postmenopausal women, or women rendered menopausal by suppression of ovarian function is a prerequisite for adjuvant bisphosphonate activity. Based on this large meta-analysis, the authors recommended the use of RECLAST® once every six months or oral Clodronate, where available. Because of paucity of data, they do not recommend the use of weekly dose of oral bisphosphonates, often used to prevent osteoporosis, to achieve these benefits. Coleman R, Gnant M, Paterson A, et al. San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2013; San Antonio, TX. Abstract S4-07.

Placebo controlled, double blind, prospective, randomized study on the effect of octreotide LAR in the control of tumor growth in patients with metastatic neuroendocrine midgut tumors (PROMID) Results on long-term survival

March 5th, 2014

SUMMARY: The role of Somatostatin analogs such as SANDOSTATIN® (Octreotide) for symptom control in patients with gastrointestinal and pancreatic NeuroEndocrine Tumors (NETs) is well established. SANDOSTATIN® also demonstrated antiproliferative activity in controlling tumor growth of well-differentiated metastatic midgut NETs (Carcinoid), by lengthening the Time to Tumor Progression (TTP), when compared with placebo (PROMID Study). Whether SANDOSTATIN® prolongs Overall Survival (OS) remained unclear. The study investigators now reported the long term follow up data from the same PROMID trial. Between 2001 and 2008, 85 patients were randomly assigned to receive either SANDOSTATIN® LAR (N=42) or Placebo (N=43). On disease progression, patients in the placebo group were allowed to crossover and receive SANDOSTATIN® LAR. Outcomes in patients with Hepatic tumor Load (HL – percentage of liver replaced by malignancy) at study entry of 10% or less, was compared to those whose HL was more than 10%. The median OS by January 2013 in the Placebo arm was 84 months whereas the median OS in the SANDOSTATIN® LAR group was not reached, suggesting that the OS in this group will exceed 84 months and therefore a longer follow up would be needed. Patients with HL 10% or less benefited the most whereas those with high HL did not have OS benefit with SANDOSTATIN® LAR. The authors concluded that SANDOSTATIN® LAR prolongs TTP as well as OS in patients with metastatic midgut NETs, carrying a Hepatic Load of 10% or less. Arnold R, Wittenberg M, Rinke A, et al. J Clin Oncol 31, 2013 (suppl; abstr 4030)

Baseline Selenium Status and Effects of Selenium and Vitamin E Supplementation on Prostate Cancer Risk

March 4th, 2014

SUMMARY: Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), is a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, conducted by the SWOG cooperative group, that involved more than 35,000 men. Participants were randomized to receive either, a) Selenium and Vitamin E, b) Selenium and a placebo, c) Vitamin E and a placebo or d) Two placebos. The purpose of this trial was to determine if high dose vitamin E (400 IU/day) and/or Selenium (200 mcg/day) supplements could decrease the incidence of prostate cancer. The level/concentration of Selenium in participants toenail clippings was measured at the time of study participation and the goal was to also determine whether Selenium supplements would benefit the subset of participants with low Selenium levels at baseline. Both Vitamin E and Selenium are antioxidants and Vitamin E rich foods include vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, and egg yolks whereas Selenium a nonmetallic trace element is found in rice, wheat, seafood, meat, and Brazil nuts. The SELECT trial, which began in 2001, was stopped early in 2008, as Selenium and Vitamin E, taken alone or together for an average of five and a half years did not decrease the incidence of prostate cancer. In 2011, an update on the SELECT trial data suggested that men who were randomized to the vitamin E alone had a 17 percent increased risk of prostate cancer compared to those men taking placebo. The authors in this case–cohort study continued follow up of the SELECT trial participants and with the Selenium levels data from toenail clippings, compared the effect of Selenium and Vitamin E, taken either alone or together, on the risk of prostate cancer, among 1739 men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer, of whom 489 participants developed high-grade prostate cancer. The control group for comparison was a random sample of 3117 men without prostate cancer and they were matched to the cases by race and age. It was noted that an individual’s baseline Selenium level, in the absence of supplementation, was not associated with prostate cancer risk. However, in men who had high baseline Selenium levels, Selenium supplements almost doubled (91%) the risk of high grade prostate cancer (P=0.007). Conversely, Vitamin E supplements had no effect among men with high baseline Selenium levels but doubled the risk of high grade prostate cancer among men with low baseline Selenium levels. Frankel et al. in an accompanying editorial point out that the dose of Vitamin E in the SELECT trial was significantly higher (400 IU/day) than the dose that was selected in the Alpha-Tocopherol Beta Carotene (ATBC) Cancer Prevention trial (50 IU/day), a study that was designed to test Vitamin E and beta carotene for lung cancer prevention in smokers. In the ATBC trial, a decrease in the incidence of prostate cancer incidence was observed, although this was a secondary finding and this study was not designed to determine prostate cancer risk. They comment that high doses of Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol), suppresses the more potentially beneficial serum Gamma-Tocopherol which is the prevalent dietary form of Vitamin E in the United States. Selenium deficiency in the U.S. is not common and any benefit with Selenium supplements can only be seen in those who are Selenium deficient and high doses may be detrimental. The authors concluded that in the SELECT trial, the combination of both Vitamin E and Selenium did not reduce the risk of prostate cancer or any other cancer or heart disease and was in fact harmful for a significant number of individuals. Therefore, men 55 years of age or more should avoid Vitamin E or Selenium supplements at doses that exceed the recommended dietary intake. Kristal AR, Darke AK, Morris JS, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst; First published online 22 February 2014, doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt456