Survey Says Oncologists Often Recommend Medical Marijuana, But Know Little About It

Survey Says Oncologists Often Recommend Medical Marijuana, But Know Little About It

To date, no randomized clinical trials have examined the effects of medical marijuana on cancer patients, so oncologists rely exclusively on research on the medical use of cannabis in the treatment of diseases other than cancer. Although the majority of oncologists responded that they have talked to their patients about medical marijuana, and almost half have recommended it, only 30% reported that they felt sufficiently informed to make recommendations, according to the report.

The authors reported geographical variation in the reactions: Oncologists in the South were least likely (69%) to report talking about medical marijuana with patients or families or advising it (34.7%), and those practicing in the West were more than likely (95%, 84%; P=0.02, P 0.001).

The study also found that patients mostly are the one to initiate discussions about medical marijuana. Dr.

"These findings are clinically important and suggest critical gaps in research, medical education, and policy regarding MM", the authors write.

A new survey indicates that oncologists often recommend or prescribe medical marijuana to their patients, although most know little about it, STAT reported. The article noted that the new survey is the first in decades to ask oncologists about their views on medical marijuana. The authors noted that the state laws encompass a complex topic, including terminology, biology, and formulations. The guidelines note insufficient evidence to recommend medical marijuana for initial management of chronic pain in cancer survivors, although evidence suggests it is worthy of consideration as an adjuvant analgesic and for managing pain conditions that are hard to treat.Evidence also remains insufficient to recommend medical marijuana for the prevention of nausea and vomiting in patients with cancer who receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

The term "medical marijuana" refers to nonpharmaceutical cannabis products that healthcare providers may recommend for therapeutic purposes that comply with state law. As a result, oncologists must theorize from research study on pharmaceutical cannabinoids or from evidence including patients with other illness and conditions.

Oral synthetic tetrahydrocannabinol received FDA approval for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Observational studies showed that medical marijuana legalization is associated with reductions in opioid-related hospitalizations, but no randomized trials have compared the two strategies for pain relief.

Previous surveys of oncologist attitudes about medical marijuana attended to just utilize as an antiemetic and were conducted prior to passage of current laws.

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"Unfortunately, at this time, the evidence base to support medical marijuana's efficacy in oncology is young", Braun says.

To assess how cancer doctors are grappling with this issue, Braun and her colleagues surveyed a nationally representative random sample of 400 oncologists.

A newly published survey made a decision to find out by asking 237 oncologists from across the country.

The study found that about two-thirds of oncologists in states where medical marijuana is legal believe that medical marijuana is beneficial when used in combination with standard treatments for symptoms such as pain, poor appetite and weight loss.

- Size of practice: Oncologists who saw the most patients each week were more likely to have discussed medical marijuana than those who saw the least patients (89% vs. 70%). 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.

The proportion of oncologists who responded "I don't know" regarding medical marijuana's effectiveness varied by indication, from 27.6% for poor appetite/cachexia to 45.1% for poor sleep.

Braun reported having no relevant relationships with industry.

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