By Roland Sebestyén
Almost half of adult breast cancer patients in the US use cannabis alongside their treatment, however, few discuss their use with their physicians.
According to News Medical, a new study “A Coala-T-Survey of Breast Cancer Patients’ Use of Cannabis Before, During and After Treatment” revealed that while cannabis use is really popular among cancer patients, many don’t trust their physician’s opinion.
It is reported that of the 612 participants, 42% said they were using cannabis to address medical issues. At the same time, of those consuming cannabis alongside their treatments, 77% use the drug for both medical and recreational purposes.
The most common reason, the authors said, patients chose cannabis was to mitigate symptoms, such as pain, insomnia, anxiety, stress and nausea/vomiting.
Furthermore, four out of five respondents reported that they found cannabis to be “extremely or very helpful at relieving their symptoms.”
However, when asked where they sourced information and advice on the use of cannabis, many participants reported that they looked online. In comparison, very few sought information from their physicians, with only 39% reporting their cannabis use to their doctors.
Lead author Marisa Weiss, MD, from Breastcancer.org and Lankenau Medical Centre, said: “Our study highlights an important opportunity for providers to initiate informed conversations about medical cannabis with their patients, as the evidence shows that many are using medical cannabis without our knowledge or guidance.
“Not knowing whether or not our cancer patients are using cannabis is a major blind spot in our ability to provide optimal care, and as healthcare providers, we need to do a better job of initiating informed conversations about medical cannabis with our patients to make sure their symptoms and side effects are being adequately managed while minimizing the risk of potential adverse effects, treatment interactions, or non-adherence to standard treatments due to misinformation about the use of medical cannabis to treat cancer.”