Most cancer doctors say that they do not know enough about medical marijuana to give patients an informed opinion.
Nonetheless, many are making headway and giving their benefits their blessings, as a national study shows.
Seven out of 10 oncologists interviewed in the United States said they were not adequately informed about the risks and benefits of medical marijuana to recommend their use to patients, as reported on May 10 in Eight out of ten cancer physicians said they talked to patients about medical marijuana last year, and 46 percent even went so far as to recommend their use in cancer treatment.
This is a "relative discrepancy." Ilana Braun, Head of the Department of Adult Psychosocial Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
"We can only imagine a few other cases where physicians would offer clinical advice on a topic they do not know about," said Braun.
There are currently 30 states with medical marijuana laws on the books, and almost all call cancer a qualifying condition for its use, Braun said.
However, pot remains an unlawful substance under federal law, which restricts the research possibilities to its effectiveness as a medical treatment. "The scientific evidence supporting the use ofin oncology remains thin," said Braun.
To assess how cancer physicians deal with this issue, Braun and her colleagues surveyed a nationwide representative random sample
The answers showed that:
- Only 30 percent of cancer doctors felt sufficiently informed to make recommendations about medical To give marijuana.
- About 46 percent recommended its use independently.
- Of those who recommended, 56 percent said they did not feel well enough informed to do so.
Braun said more research must be done on the medical efficacy of marijuana and potential adverse effects.
For example, patients with an immune system destroyed bymay be at an increased risk of fungal infection from pot use, she noted.
The Best Survey of Medical Marijuana The usefulness of Na, published by the National Academy of Sciences in 2017, found mixed evidence when it comes to cancer treatment, Braun said.
The report found conclusive evidence that oral medications containing THC, the intoxicating chemical in the pot, contained influence of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
But the report found no evidence of one way or another regarding the ability of medical marijuana to treat the lack of appetite and wastage caused by cancer.
There is substantial evidence that pot is an effective treatment forin adults, but it is not known if marijuana can primarily fight cancer pain.
Braun's survey found that 67 percent of cancer doctors felt that a medical pot could be a useful adjunct to standard pain therapy, and 65 percent said it could help patients with their lack of appetite.
Dr. Andrew Epstein, an oncologist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, said the doctors could not fully grasp the problem, but that should not be a cause for concern.
"If oncologists recommend something obviously unsafe, that would be one thing, I think marijuana has a lack of evidence behind some things to the advantage and could have some drawbacks, but I do not think marijuana is a highly risky treatment in itself is, "Epstein said. "I'm less worried than the authors about it."
In fact, Epstein argues that the debilitating effects of cancer and cancer treatment – pain, loss of appetite, nausea, depression – are "potentially more debilitating than any drug interaction that this plant would have with cancer treatments."
Cancer doctors consider medical marijuana Appropriately as adjunct therapy used with other established treatments, Epstein said.
"Oncologists welcome something that Toolbox could have advantages in their eyes, along with all the other things they already have," he said.
At the same time, Epstein agrees with Braun that more research and better medical education is needed so that doctors can give the patient the best informed advice.
Better medical education around marijuana "would help with the knowledge base of these things so that oncologists could become even more knowledgeable participants in helpi I lead patients and families," said Epstein.