Medical cannabis helps manage concurrent cancer-related symptoms

Medical cannabis has been shown to help people living with cancer manage their symptoms, with more than 95% of respondents reporting an improvement.

Medical cannabis for pain relief

Managing symptoms, such as pain and nausea, is one of the primary aims of palliative cancer care. However, many patients experience inadequate relief with available medicines.

In a study published in the March 2018 edition of European Journal of Internal Medicine
[1]
, researchers analysed data on 2,970 people living with cancer (51.2% stage 4) from Israel who were treated with medical cannabis between 2015 and 2017. 

The team found that the most common types of cancer treated with medical cannabis were breast, lung and pancreatic cancers, and the most common symptoms treated were sleep problems, pain, weakness and nausea. At six months, 902 patients (24.9%) had died and 682 (18.8%) had stopped cannabis treatment.

Of the remaining, 1,211 responded; 95.9% reported an improvement in their condition, 3.7% reported no difference and 0.3% said their condition worsened.

The researchers said the findings indicate that cannabis could be an effective and safe treatment for managing multiple symptoms concurrently in palliative cancer care.

References

[1] Bar-Lev Schleider L, Mechoulam R, Lederman V et al. Prospective analysis of safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in large unselected population of patients with cancer. Eur J Int Med 2018;49:37–43. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2018.01.023

Last updated
Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, April 2018;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204654