The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center yesterday teamed up with more than 40 Houston-area African-American churches to encourage men in their congregations to participate in the prostate cancer prevention study, the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (Select).
Select, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Southwest Oncology Group (an NCI-supported national research group), is designed to determine whether selenium and vitamin E, or both, can prevent prostate cancer, the third leading cancer killer in men.
African-American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and are twice as likely to die from the disease than men of any other racial or ethnic background.
The event included distribution of study information in the churches through flyers, revival fans, bulletin announcements, bulletin boards and church Web sites.
"Select Sunday was developed to increase enrollment of African-American men because the study is below its national target of 20 per cent enrollment for this racial group," said Dr Elise Cook, Anderson's Select principal investigator.
"For this reason, we are placing a strong emphasis on recruiting African-American men."
More than 400 institutions throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico are recruiting 32,400 volunteers to Select, the largest cancer prevention study ever conducted. M. D. Anderson has enrolled more than 280 men during the first two years of a five-year recruitment period.
Prospective Select participants must be healthy males who are at least 55 years old - 50 if African-American - and never diagnosed with prostate cancer. They will take vitamin supplements and/or placebos daily for seven to 12 years, returning every six months for follow-up visits.
"We don't have all the answers now, but previous research has shown that these two minerals may provide some protection against prostate cancer," Cook said.
Despite progress in the early detection and treatment of the disease, about 220,900 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during 2003, according to the American Cancer Society. About 28,900 men are expected to die from the disease this year.