Medical Marijuana for Cancer Patients: An Effective Treatment Option?

Medical Marijuana
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Cancer is one of the ferocious causes of death worldwide, and it can be a painful and challenging experience for patients and their families. Cancer treatment has different types of drugs that are designed to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells. These include: 

  • Chemotherapy drugs which kill fast-growing cells
  • Immunotherapy drugs help the body recognize and fight cancer cells
  • Radiation therapy kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA
  • Surgery to remove tumours
  • Hormone therapy to slow or stop hormone production
  • Targeted therapy which targets specific cancer pathways

What is Medical Marijuana?

The use of cannabis to treat cancer patients has been discussed for years. Although marijuana is not a cure, it can help reduce the symptoms associated with cancer treatment. The biggest advantage marijuana has over traditional cancer treatments is that it can be used not only for prevention but also when treatment has already begun. For example, by using, a person can take a preventative approach. This means that they will be able to reduce the developing cancer cells.

The Role of Medical Marijuana in Cancer Treatment

Medical marijuana can relieve pain for cancer patients. Cancer-related pain can be severe and persistent. It can be difficult to manage with conventional pain medications. Medical marijuana is believed to be an effective alternative for patients who are not responding well to traditional medications. The anti-nausea properties of medical marijuana are thought to be due to the presence of THC and CBD. It can activate certain receptors in the brain that help to reduce nausea and vomiting. Another potential benefit of medical marijuana for cancer patients is its ability to stimulate appetite. Cancer and cancer treatment can cause a loss of appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and weight loss. Medical marijuana may be able to help stimulate appetite and prevent weight loss in cancer patients.

The Evidence for Medical Marijuana in Cancer Treatment

But does it really work? Does marijuana really help relieve cancer symptoms? According to a recent study conducted by scientists at Duke University Medical Center, yes. The research involved 517 people who were diagnosed with cancer between 1999 and 2010. They reported less pain while awake and felt more relaxed during physical therapy sessions. One of the challenges in studying medical marijuana for cancer treatment is the legal and regulatory barriers that exist. As a result, much of the evidence for medical marijuana in cancer treatment is based on observational studies, case reports, and anecdotal evidence. A study published in 2018 found that medical marijuana was effective in reducing opioid use in cancer patients with chronic pain.


We live in an Era of great change. That’s just the beginning. Dozens of states now allow the medical use of marijuana for cancer patients. And even more, states where it is legal the treatment certain symptoms associated with cancer. As more research is conducted, we may gain a better understanding of the potential benefits and risks of medical marijuana. Of course, using any substance, even something as common as aspirin, carries certain risks.  So some people (such as those with cardiovascular disease) are better off avoiding them altogether. But if your doctor has prescribed medical marijuana for you, then it might manage your symptoms without causing additional problems like side effects or addiction.