One of marijuana’s most accepted benefits is the treatment of symptoms associated with cancer and cancer chemotherapy. Marinol, a synthetic THC pill, has been available to cancer patients since the 1980s, and a number of countries now allow the use of cannabis in its natural form.
However, no controlled study has evaluated the benefits of medical marijuana for patients with cancer.
“Its use may be justified as part of palliative treatment”In order to shed some light on its use, a group of Israeli doctors conducted a survey among cancer patients that received cannabis treatment at the Sheba Medical Center, the largest hospital in Israel.
Of the 113 patients alive after one month of treatment, 69 completed the survey. The majority were in advanced stages of disease and 90% consumed the drug by smoking it.
More than 50% of patients that were surveyed said marijuana helped with symptoms of pain, nausea and vomiting, and appetite loss. 44% also reported reductions in anxiety.
Overall, 70% of patients said cannabis helped improve general well-being and 83% ranked the effectiveness of cannabis as high. The findings were published June 14 in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.
“Although these data cannot endorse the use of cannabis for specific symptoms, they support the view that its use may be justified as part of palliative treatment in selected cancer patients,” wrote the authors.
More than half of patients experienced no side effects from treatment. The most common side effects reported were fatigue (20.3%) and dizziness (18.8%).
“Cannabis use is perceived as highly effective by some patients with advanced cancer,” the authors conclude.
“Additional studies are required in order to evaluate the efficacy of cannabis as part of the palliative treatment of cancer patients.”