medical cannabis in oncology
Cancer is a major public health issue, as it is the leading cause of death worldwide. Palliative treatment, which aims to alleviate pain and nausea in patients with advanced disease, is a crucial aspect of oncology care. In 2007, the Israeli Ministry of Health began providing approvals for the use of medical cannabis for the palliation of cancer symptoms.
Opioids are currently the primary medication used to treat cancer pain, with success rates ranging from 80-90%. However, some patients may not experience adequate pain relief with opioids and standard adjuvant analgesics, or may experience unacceptable side effects.
Nausea and vomiting are common chemotherapy side effects, with up to three-fourths of all cancer patients experiencing chemotherapy-related emesis. Despite advances in antiemetic therapy, these symptoms continue to be a burden for cancer patients undergoing treatment.
Cannabis has a long history of medicinal and recreational use, and its active compounds, known as cannabinoids, have been shown to have therapeutic effects on cancer-related symptoms such as pain and nausea. This is reflected in the fact that many cancer patients use cannabis to manage their symptoms.
Data was collected on 2970 cancer patients treated with medical cannabis between 2015 and 2017 as part of a routine treatment program. The aim of this study was to characterize the epidemiology of cancer patients receiving medical cannabis treatment and to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this therapy.
The results of this study suggest that medical cannabis is a well-tolerated, effective, and safe option for palliative treatment of cancer-related symptoms.
Another potential benefit of using cannabis in oncology is its potential to improve the effectiveness of cancer treatments. Some studies have suggested that cannabis can enhance the uptake and effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs, and can therefore improve the outcomes of cancer treatment. Additionally, cannabis has been shown to have anti-tumor properties, and some studies have suggested that it may be effective in inhibiting the growth and spread of certain types of cancer. By providing a complementary treatment option, cannabis can enhance the overall effectiveness of cancer care.
Further research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of medical cannabis in cancer care.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here are those of the author and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare practitioner.