- Almost 50% of breast cancer patients have used cannabis or CBD for symptom relief, especially during treatment. These natural alternatives can help manage pain, anxiety, sleep issues, and nausea.
- However, many patients hesitate to discuss their cannabis usage with healthcare professionals, which can pose risks. Open communication between patients and doctors is crucial to ensure safety.
- The use of cannabis does carry potential risks, such as overstraining the liver in combination with certain chemotherapy drugs and a possibility to impact respiratory function during certain treatments.
- Misconceptions about cannabis persist, with many users believing it can cure cancer or that it is entirely safe.
- While cannabis can offer benefits in managing cancer-related symptoms, healthcare professionals advise patients to disclose their usage to better understand potential risks and ensure safety.
An encouraging number of breast cancer patients report that cannabis or CBD has eased their journey. These natural alternatives have shown effectiveness in managing anxiety, stress, and side effects of treatment. Yet, many patients feel hesitant about discussing their cannabis usage with healthcare professionals.
Cannabis for Symptom Relief: A Popular Choice Among Breast Cancer Patients
Research indicates that roughly one out of every two people with breast cancer have used either marijuana or CBD. These patients often turn to such remedies during treatment, finding respite from pain, anxiety, sleep issues, and nausea. A recent online survey elaborates on this trend.
Patients acknowledge the advantages brought by cannabis, but a general hesitance to bring it up with their doctors persists, as per the survey. This reluctance towards discussing cannabis usage might pose risks, greatly emphasizing the importance of patient-doctor communication.
The Possible Risks
Some varieties of chemotherapy drugs and cannabis are broken down by the same hepatic region. Overstraining the liver should be avoided, warns Dr. Marisa Weiss, chief medical officer of Breastcancer.org and Breasthealth.org. Additionally, inhalation of cannabis during radiation therapy or other chest-impacting procedures can potentially affect respiratory function. Despite these warnings, cannabis should not be summarily branded as harmful. Instead, a nuanced understanding of its potential benefits alongside risks is suggested.
75% of respondents who used cannabis claimed it astoundingly or significantly abated their symptoms. Dr. Weiss explains, “These symptoms can be incredibly draining and could interfere with a patient’s quality of life, as well as ability to continue treatment.”
Within the patient demographic diagnosed with breast cancer in the past half-decade, 42% confessed to using cannabis as a method of relieving symptoms. Among these, a staggering 79% incorporated cannabis into their breast cancer treatment protocols.
Cannabidiol (CBD), derived from hemp, and THC are both popular with patients. However, CBD, with no psychoactive effects, proves a more preferred choice compared to the high-inducing THC. On average, the survey takers reported using more than three diverse categories of cannabis commodities, including gummies, inhalables, and extracts.
The Prevalence of Misconceptions
The findings also throw light on persistent misconceptions around cannabis use. Almost half of the users mistakenly assumed that cannabis can cure cancer. Many also believed it is completely safe, contrary to reality. The survey discovered that most people relied on non-professional sources like family, friends, and the internet for information instead of their healthcare providers.
It’s necessary for patients to bring up cannabis usage with their doctors, according to Dr. Weiss. Informing your healthcare professional about these symptoms and your interest in learning more about cannabis is a crucial part of the treatment process. She also emphasized the importance of discussing alternative therapies to handle these symptoms.
Despite these assertions, patients often step back from discussing cannabis usage due to potential judgment or inadequacy of knowledge on their doctor’s behalf.
Seeking Knowledgeable Physicians
If the current physician is not amenable to these discussions, Dr. Weiss advisor seeking a doctor who is not only aware about cannabis, but also open to learning more. Given the fact that most state medical cannabis programs now recognize cancer as a qualifying condition, this knowledge is more essential than ever.
While cannabis can assist with certain cancer symptoms or treatment side effects, healthcare professionals warn that uncertainties and potential risks still exist. As a result, it is urged that patients should communicate their cannabis use to their physicians to better understand any possible adverse events.
Another important consideration is the veracity of cannabis products. Although natural and plant-based, they may not be 100% safe. When purchasing cannabis products, buyers should be careful since many CBD products, in particular, do not contain what their label claims.
To ensure the best results, consider purchasing these products through a state-run marijuana dispensary.
For more information on medical cannabis use in cancer, Breastcancer.org offers more resources.