The Role of Medical Cannabis in Alleviating Pain Among Cancer Patients

An extensive evaluation of medical cannabis’ benefits in treating cancer-related pain found that, in general, measures of pain had improved significantly for most oncology patients and related symptoms had subsided significantly; consumption of painkillers also declined while minimal side effects were experienced.

These findings show that medicinal cannabis could provide a safer alternative to pain relief medications typically prescribed to cancer patients.

Pain, insomnia, anxiety and depression are some of the primary sources of disability and suffering for oncology patients receiving treatments; such adverse events could potentially reduce prognosis.

Pain from cancer is typically treated with opioid analgesics; however, most oncologists consider opioid treatment harmful and prefer other treatment approaches instead.

The study assessed medical cannabis’ potential benefits for relieving cancer-related pain in oncology patients; collecting data at both start and end points of treatment to conduct an extensive analysis of its success.

After interviewing several individuals living with cancer who were searching for alternative pain and symptom relief solutions, researchers conducted extensive testing of medicinal cannabis’ potential benefits.

They encountered many individuals living with cancer who inquired whether medical cannabis treatment could improve their health. A review of existing research demonstrated that not much was known about its efficacy for treating pain associated with cancer; most results were inconclusive as to what could be gained.

Certified oncologists were recruited and asked to issue medical cannabis licenses to cancer patients they cared for. After referral by these oncologists, interested patients participated in this research study by providing information about the characteristics of their disease to be reported back.

Anonymous questionnaires were administered before beginning treatment and periodically over the next 6 months to gather data on various factors, such as side effects, sexual issues, cancer symptom burden, analgesics consumption and pain measures.

Data analysis demonstrated significant gains across many of the outcome measures, with reduction in cancer symptoms and less pain experienced. Furthermore, opioid and other pain analgesic use was reduced significantly with about half of participants giving up all medications after 6 months of using medicinal cannabis as part of their treatment plan.

Although cannabis has been touted as an appetite suppressant, most individuals in this study still experienced weight loss. A significant portion had already been diagnosed with progressive cancer which would explain such results.

Sexual function improved for most men but worsened for most women.

Though the study was comprehensive and provided additional medical cannabis perspectives, its vast diversity – in terms of age, sex, ethnicity, cancer types and stages and cancer stages among its participants – meant it included individuals of many different kinds.