Study: Cannabinoids Led to Symptom Improvements in Over 70% of Cancer Patients

According to a new study about one in four cancer patients use cannabinoids to assist in symptom control, and a strong majority saw a “subjective alleviation of treatment-related symptoms”.

Limited studies have described the utilization of cannabinoids among cancer patients”, states the study, published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics. “This survey study aimed to characterize utilization patterns and perceptions of cannabinoid use for treatment-related side effects among patients receiving radiation treatment.”

This was an “anonymous survey study of patients who were undergoing or recently completed radiation treatment at a comprehensive cancer center. Data on cannabinoid use during cancer treatment, reasons for the use of cannabinoids, perceived effects of cannabinoids, and formulations of usage were collected and summarized using descriptive statistics.”

Of the 431 respondents, 111 (25.8%) patients reported cannabinoid use since their cancer diagnosis. Among the cannabinoid users, a majority (73.9%) experienced improvement in symptoms. 38.7% had better relief of cancer-treatment symptoms from cannabinoids in comparison to their prescription medications, and 16.2% lowered the amount of prescription pain medications needed after using cannabinoids.

“Cannabinoids appeared to be most effective in helping patients manage sleep (76.6%) and anxiety (72.1%)”, claim researchers. “When asked about whether physicians should be discussing cannabinoid use, 45.1% of cannabinoid users wanted to speak with their doctors regarding its utilization. For patients who did not report cannabinoid use, a large majority (83.1%) never had discussions with their doctors regarding its utilization as part of their cancer care, and 34.8% wanted to learn more about cannabinoids from their doctors.”

The study concludes:

About one in four cancer patients reported cannabinoid use to assist in symptom control. A majority had subjective alleviation of treatment-related symptoms from cannabinoid use. Regardless of cannabinoid use, a sizable percentage of patients never had any discussions about cannabinoids with their oncologists, with some expressing interest in learning more. Guidelines are needed to assist radiation oncologists on how cannabinoids may play a role in caring for patients.

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