Medical Marijuana

Treating Cancer Diagnoses With Medical Cannabis

July 21, 2017

Cancer is one of the most common diagnoses associated with medical cannabis. It is well-known that cannabis can offer immediate relief to patients undergoing cancer treatments by reducing nausea and vomiting, as well as increasing appetite. Less well-known are the other potential benefits patients report from using medical cannabis. For example, many patients experience chronic pain long after their cancer therapies are completed; others develop depression and anxiety in response to the cancer diagnosis or due to concerns about the cancer returning. Medical cannabis may be very beneficial in treating these related debilitating symptoms.

But what about the possibility of medical cannabis preventing the return of cancer?

With any medical treatment, we must consider the potential benefits and risks to the patient. Most patients in remission from cancer are validly concerned their cancer will return. If medical cannabis could help prevent relapse, the benefits of using this treatment would outweigh the risks for most patients.

Preliminary research has indicated cannabis can also have direct anticancer effects. Hopefully with the growing acceptance of medical cannabis, we will see human clinical studies in the near future. In the meantime, there is anecdotal evidence of the ability for cannabis to directly treat tumors.

In a clinical trial conducted at a Tampa cancer treatment center,  approximately twenty-five participants with malignant neuroendocrine tumors were treated with an experimental drug. Only one participant successfully completed the study. The other participants either died during the study or had to drop out because their tumor enlarged. The one participant who successfully completed the study reported he was simultaneously self-treating with cannabis. When the patient was temporarily unable to obtain cannabis, a CT scan showed the tumor grew; yet, when he resumed the cannabis treatment, the tumor shrank back down to its previous size.

Last year the Canadian medical journal, Current Oncology, published a remarkable article entitled “Integrating Cannabis into Clinical Cancer Care.” In this review, the authors provide much more detail on utilizing medical cannabis to treat cancer-related issues. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791148/).

The State of Florida has instructed Moffitt Cancer Center to create a research and tracking system of the State’s medical cannabis program. I look forward to Tampa becoming a national leader in utilizing medical cannabis to optimize the lives, both short and long term, of people who have been stricken with cancer and many other medical conditions.

With the passage of Florida’s new medical cannabis law (SB-8A), qualified patients no longer have to wait 90 days before being eligible to receive medical cannabis treatment. Although the State is backlogged in processing Medical Marijuana Use ID Card applications, qualified patients can begin the application process immediately upon being certified. Because of the State’s processing delay, I advise patients to start the certification process as soon as possible. If you or a loved one are interested in being evaluated for medical cannabis certification in the State of Florida, please visit our website here. To learn more about Dr. David, read his full biography here.