Oncologists May Not Be Adequately Informed About Medical Marijuana

Cancer Docs: We Need More Research on Medical Marijuana

Jerry Mitchell, medical oncologist at the Zangmeister Cancer Center in OH, told National Public Radio that medical marijuana is "well-known" as "a product cancer patients think will help them, and they're going to ask their doctors about it, which is what they should be doing". "While this topic is common, however, data on medical marijuana use is less so". The impact of marijuana can also vary from person to person, making its use unpredictable in certain cases.

" A state may have made it legal for medical cannabis to be given, but an individual might not have the process in place to give it".

"[The findings] highlight a crucial need for expedited clinical trials exploring marijuana's potential medicinal effects in oncology. and the need for education programs about medical marijuana to inform oncologists who frequently confront questions regarding medical marijuana in practice", the authors concluded.

The term "medical cannabis" refers to nonpharmaceutical marijuana items that healthcare providers may suggest for restorative functions that adhere to state law. Non-pharmaceutical medical marijuana, however, is often whole plant, containing hundreds of active ingredients, and thus can not easily be compared to pharmaceutical cannabinoids.

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Previous surveys of oncologist attitudes about medical marijuana attended to just utilize as an antiemetic and were conducted prior to passage of current laws. More than 70% of the patients also presented an overall improvement in their condition, after medical cannabis therapy.

Researchers surveyed 237 oncologists around the country, asking about their beliefs, knowledge, and practices regarding medical marijuana.

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that while many oncologists are willing to discuss and even recommend medical cannabis to patients, the majority of them feel that they don't have enough knowledge about the plant medicine to make solid clinical recommendations.

In fact, Epstein argues that the debilitating effects of cancer and cancer treatment - pain, appetite loss, nausea, depression - "are potentially more debilitating than any potential medication interactions this plant would have with cancer treatments". While a majority of doctors (80 percent) discussed marijuana with their patients, nearly half of them (46 percent) recommended it for cancer-related problems. In the new study, cancer doctors said their conversations about marijuana were nearly always started by patients and their families, not by the doctors themselves. But, less than 30 percent of them believed they had sufficient knowledge and understanding of the drug.

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Patients want to know what their doctors think about using marijuana.

About half view marijuana as equal to, or more effective than, standard treatments for cancer-related nausea. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) also viewed it as equally or more effective than standard treatments for poor appetite and extreme weight loss.

The proportion of oncologists who reacted "I do not know" concerning medical cannabis's effectiveness varied by indicator, from 27.6% for poor appetite/cachexia to 45.1% for bad sleep.

Geographic location: Oncologists practicing in the Western United States were more likely to have discussed (95 percent) or recommended (84 percent) medical marijuana, and oncologists practicing in the South were least likely (69 percent and 35 percent, respectively).

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