Recently-released findings from a new study show that cannabis has become a common treatment among breast cancer patients for managing symptoms.
Breastcancer.org on Friday, May 22, announced the results from a study showing that more than 40 percent of patients have used medical cannabis to manage symptoms from breast cancer or its treatments.
The research team invited members of the Breastcancer.org and Healthline online communities in the United States who had been diagnosed with breast cancer within the past five years to participate in the survey between December 19, 2019, and January 19, 2020.
Participants’ ages ranged from 27 to 84, with 57 being the median age.
Fifteen percent of respondents had metastatic disease.
Of the 832 respondents who completed the initial screening, 725 met the eligibility requirements, but only 612 finished the survey.
From the 612 completed surveys, 42 percent of respondents reported using medicinal cannabis for symptom management.
The majority of users reported that medicinal cannabis was effective at managing symptoms.
“While solid evidence on the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis to treat cancer-related symptoms remains scarce, many patients report they find cannabis effective for symptom palliation,” says Weiss. “We conducted this study, in part, to explore which symptoms breast cancer patients seek to control with cannabis and at a what point during their treatment.”
Seventy-nine percent of respondents reported using cannabis during active breast cancer treatments, including hormonal therapy, radiation, targeted therapy, and chemotherapy.
Seventy-eight percent reported using medical cannabis for pain, seventy percent reported using it for insomnia, and fifty-seven percent reported using it for anxiety.
According to researchers, study results will aid Breastcancer.org’s development of educational resources and empower patients to have informed conversations with their physicians.
Researchers say that patient-reported data will provide valuable insights into understanding the needs of breast cancer patients, though more-rigorous, randomized controlled trial data is necessary to determine the safety and efficacy of medicinal cannabis for controlling cancer symptoms.