With 29 states now having passed laws allowing the use of medical marijuana, many patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are beginning to wonder whether the plant makes sense for them. According to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, many cancer doctors in the United States are wondering the same thing, and despite having limited knowledge of its uses or impact they have begun to prescribe it for their patients with cancer.
The study was led by Dr. Ilana Braun of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who surveyed 237 cancer doctors, including some who treat mesothelioma patients. The study revealed that nearly half had recommended that patients try using medical marijuana to address cancer-related symptoms ranging from pain from their tumors to nausea and lack of appetite caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatment. In most cases the conversations about marijuana use were not initiated by the physician, but by either the patient or their family members. Almost 80% acknowledged that they’d had discussions about using marijuana, while 46% had ended up recommending it to at least one patient in the past year despite the fact that more than half who had recommended it said that they didn’t know enough about it. “They feel they have a lot to learn,” said Braun.
Though marijuana is still considered illegal, its use in medical treatment is becoming more widespread and less of a taboo, and that has many mesothelioma patients and others diagnosed with cancer curious as to whether it can provide them with relief. Most of the physicians responding to the survey said that they believed that it was at least as effective, and possibly more effective than traditional treatments for nausea, and 75% said they believed it presented less risk of overdose than the opioids that are usually prescribed for pain relief.
Though medical marijuana does have its own risks and side effects, for patients with terminal conditions like mesothelioma physicians have a pragmatic attitude. Said Dr. Steven Pergam of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, “Whatever they want to do to make themselves comfortable.”
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you need information about the resources available to you, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.