Pediatric Oncology Center Justifies the Use of Medical Cannabis

In Summary

Pediatric oncologists from Minnesota recently published an article justifying their use of medical cannabis as palliative care for their patients. The majority of patients at the oncology center were approved for medical cannabis use during their first round of treatment in order to immediately address the negative side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, pain, and cancer cachexia. The data provided from the center described much higher chemotherapy compliance rates among patients, and that patients have a much better quality of life when utilizing cannabis.

This article highlights a few promising trends and issues with using medical cannabis; one promising trend being the hope for cannabis to provide antitumor effects. Cannabis has been looked into for antitumor effects and has shown promising results but there are many limitations to the few studies that had been published, leading the authors to hold off on overarching conclusions. The center in Minnesota noted that many of the patients diagnosed with brain tumors were especially hopeful that cannabis would aid in curing them of cancer, second to utilizing the drug for nausea. This is a promising trend because it means the greater public is showing interest in the therapeutic possibilities of cannabis and their support and call for research will aid the drive for the federal rescheduling of marijuana. 

Also highlighted in this article is that of all the patients certified to use medical cannabis a subset of 24% never actually registered through the state to receive the cannabis. The authors have no real data of etiology behind this phenomena but suspect that the $200 annual fee on top of the fee for each additional dispensed prescription limited patients abilities to afford cannabis. Without the support of the federal government insurance companies are unable to cover medical cannabis leading many unable to afford medical cannabis. With the promising data provided in this article, it is a shame so many patients were unable to benefit from cannabis use due to affordability. 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDPediatric Oncology Center Justifies the Use of Medical Cannabis
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Should Oncologists Recommend Cannabis?

Oncologists Should Recommend Cannabis-Based Medicine for Palliative Care

In Summary:

Earlier this June a review was published that encourages oncologists to recommend cannabis products to their patients as a safe and effective method of palliative care. The opinion piece highlights how cannabis is a useful treatment for a variety of illnesses (nausea, vomiting, sleep, mood, anxiety), and encourages practitioners to prescribe cannabis for their patients so that they can appreciate the safety and effectiveness of the product.  

Dr. Caplan and the #MDTake:

As Dr Abrams makes abundantly and eloquently clear, the reasons for oncologists to RETURN to recommending cannabis (as clinicians were accustomed to doing in generations past) are many. Weighing the safety profile of cannabinoid medicines and the long list of potential benefits for those battling cancers, against temporary adverse side effects (some of which, like appetite stimulation and sedation, can also be advantages for oncology patients), it is almost unethical for modern clinicians to NOT recommend that patients consider cannabis supplementation. The historical sociopolitical war on drugs was never founded in scientific rationale, nor supported by rigorous inquiry that has borne out half a million scientific reviews on the topic. It is high time that physicians return to a practice style that prioritizes patient well-being first, and emphasizes self-education about areas of medicine about which the providers may be less informed.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDShould Oncologists Recommend Cannabis?
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