Nearly Half of Breast Cancer Patients Treat Symptoms with Cannabis, Study Shows

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Cannabis use for the relief of symptoms is self-reported by 42% of participants with breast cancer, according to a recent survey.

Cannabis use for the relief of symptoms is self-reported by 42% of participants with breast cancer, according to a recent survey.

Medical cannabis is widely used by cancer patients, with previous studies showing nearly a quarter of respondents with a range of different cancers using the drug, mostly for pain relief.

Although US Federal law states that cannabis possession for personal use is illegal, 36 states allow for the medical use of cannabis products, as of May 2021.

The study consists of a survey which was posted online to Breastcancer.org. Participants were invited to give data anonymously via the online support group, messaging boards, social media and email newsletters. The survey collected demographic data and breast cancer variables (such as type, stage and treatment status), as well as information on the timing of cannabis use in relation to therapy, products used, sources and perceived safety of the drug.

Findings

A total of 612 surveys received were available for data analysis, with 64% of respondents reporting high levels of interest in the therapeutic uses of cannabis. Despite this, only 39% discussed the use of cannabis with their physician.

Of the 42% (257 patients) who reported using cannabis, 79% did so alongside conventional treatment and 54% reported using it after their therapy completion. The most common reasons listed by the 257 patients using cannabis were: relief of pain (78%), insomnia (70%), anxiety (57%), stress (50%) and nausea (46%).

75% believed using cannabis was very or extremely effective at treating their symptoms, with 57% of participants reporting that cannabis was the only way they found to alleviate their symptoms. Over 70% of respondents believed that the benefits of cannabis outweighed the risks.

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