Friday, 17 August, 2018

Doctors Are Recommending Cancer Patients Marijuana Despite Not Knowing Enough

Marijuana plants a few weeks away from harvest Doctors Are Recommending Cancer Patients Marijuana Despite Not Knowing Enough
Anna Jefferson | 11 May, 2018, 21:36

Nevertheless, many go ahead and give its use their blessing, a national survey reveals.

There is now a lack of high-quality evidence that supports the use of medical cannabis for cancer-related illnesses which could be why so many oncologists feel ill-equipped to discuss or recommend products to their patients.

The authors reported geographic variation in the responses: Oncologists in the South were least likely (69%) to report discussing medical marijuana with patients or families or recommending it (34.7%), and those practicing in the West were most likely (95%, 84%; P=0.02, P 0.001).

Even though the therapeutic use of cannabis is legal in more than half of the American states, "the scientific evidence supporting the use of medical marijuana in oncology is still very weak, which puts doctors in a very uncomfortable position", said Dr. Ilana Braun of the Dana-Farber Institute of Adult Psychosocial Oncology.

"We can think of few other instances in which physicians would offer clinical advice about a topic on which they do not feel knowledgeable", Braun said.

In the 22 intervening years, however, no randomized clinical trial has investigated the utility of whole-plant medical marijuana to alleviate symptoms such as pain, insomnia, or nausea and vomiting in patients with cancer. "We need to bridge this gap so oncologists have the unbiased information they need to assist with decision-making related to medical marijuana use".

The private investigators sent by mail studies to 400 randomly chosen medical oncologists.

Cancer specialists frequently discussed medical marijuana with patients and nearly half recommended cannabis for treatment, even though fewer than a third of the clinicians felt sufficiently informed, a national survey showed.

About 46 percent recommended its use, regardless.

Among those who said they recommended marijuana, 56 percent said they did not have sufficient knowledge to do so.

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Braun said more research needs to be done regarding the medical effectiveness of marijuana, as well as potential harmful effects.

A patient with leukemia, however, should be warned of a theoretical possibility of a fungal infection tied to cannabis use.

"It's clear from this study that patients and their families want to know more about medical marijuana for the treatment of cancer-related symptoms, and often initiate discussions with their oncologists".

As of the JCO article's publication date, 30 states and the District of Columbia had legalized use of marijuana for medical purposes, and all but one of the laws included cancer as a qualifying condition. "You've got nonsteroidals, which can work but are sometimes not effective for substantial cancer pain".

With regard to oncologists' perceptions about the effectiveness of medical marijuana, a third said they considered medical marijuana to be at least as effective or more effective than standard pain treatments, another third said it was less effective, and another third said they did not know.

"If oncologists are recommending something which is blatantly unsafe, then that would be one thing". "I am less concerned than the authors about this".

"Oncologists are welcoming something that might have benefit outweighing harm in their toolbox, along with all the other things they already have", he said. Yet, many doctors are not trained or educated on the drug and can not offer quality advice to their patients about it.

The findings of the new survey highlighted a problem faced by many cancer patients who are recommended medical marijuana but not provided expert guidance. Dr.

Marijuana isn't harmless. The National Academies report said pot smoking may be linked to higher chances of traffic accidents, chronic bronchitis from long-term use and schizophrenia and other causes of psychosis, especially in the most frequent users.

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