Sodium selenite as prophylaxis against erysipelas in secondary lymphedema

Anticancer Res. 1998 May-Jun;18(3C):2227-30.


In a randomised, double-blind study, the efficacy of sodium selenite application in combination with physical therapy to relieve congestion was investigated in a cohort of 60 cancer patients with secondary lymphedema, with special reference to the development of the incidence of erysipelas. All of the patients investigated in this study had erysipelas infection of the skin. Selenium was administered in pharmacological doses. The duration of physical therapy was three weeks. Patients were under observation for a further three months. The incidence of erysipelas among our patients was 11%. During the three-week period of intensive treatment, there was not a single case of erysipelas in the treatment group, whereas there was one single case in the placebo group. In the follow-up period (3 months), once again there was not a single case of erysipelas in the treatment group, but 50% of the patients in the placebo group exhibited erysipelas. In spite of higher doses, the selenium level did not rise above normal values. Patients under long-term antibiotic therapy suffered no relapse when the antibiotic therapy was stopped and instead, selenium was administered. It could be shown, in addition, that by administration of a single high-dose of sodium selenite, inflammation could be immediately brought under control.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Erysipelas / etiology*
  • Erysipelas / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphedema / complications*
  • Lymphedema / etiology
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Placebos
  • Selenium / blood
  • Sodium Selenite / therapeutic use*


  • Placebos
  • Selenium
  • Sodium Selenite