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Cancer Pain Alleviation Through Medicinal Cannabis: Latest Findings

May 24, 2023


Quebec, Canada--According to a recent study, medicinal cannabis is a 'safe and effective' measure in mitigating pain in cancer patients, potentially reducing their dependence on other medications. The study, involving 358 cancer patients enrolled in the Quebec Cannabis Registry, observed the effects of cannabis over a year-long period.

[Image via Creative Commons]

According to a Pulse report, cancer types primarily included genitourinary, breast, and bowel cancers, with 73% of patients reporting pain as the leading reason for medicinal cannabis prescription. The research indicates that balanced tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) products seem more beneficial than those skewed towards one.

The report noted that findings published in the BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care Journal highlight statistically significant declines in pain intensity, severity, and interference with daily life at the 3, 6, and 9-month check-ups. Also, patients' total count of medications consistently dropped at all intervals, with opioid usage decreasing over the initial three check-ins.

While well-tolerated by patients, with only 15 moderate to severe side effects reported by 11, five individuals discontinued usage due to these side effects. Two serious side effects - pneumonia and a cardiovascular event - were documented but unlikely linked to medicinal cannabis, researchers stated.

However, the researchers emphasize the study's observational nature and the loss of a substantial number of patients to follow-up, calling for additional research with control groups for a thorough evaluation, as per the report.

The report noted that last year's national review of innovation proposed that GPs should be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis. The spokesperson of the Department of Health and Social Care asserted that, like all medicines, cannabis-based products must demonstrate safety and effectiveness before considering routine NHS funding. The Department is actively collaborating to conduct clinical trials to inform future decisions about NHS funding of more medicinal cannabis-based products.

Learn more in the Pulse report.