Cancer patients are using medical cannabis (MC) to address symptoms; however, little data exist to guide clinicians when counseling patients. We seek to define the patterns of MC use among cancer patients, as well as efficacy and safety of MC.
Cancer patients attending oncology office visits at Beaumont Hospital, Michigan from July to December 2018 were anonymously surveyed. The survey included data regarding demographics, diagnosis, treatment, symptom burden, and MC use. Patients who reported MC use since their cancer diagnosis completed a section on patterns of use, efficacy, and safety.
The response rate was 188 of 327 (57.5%). MC use was reported by 46 of 188 (24.5%). A median composite baseline symptom score ranging from 8 (best) to 32 (worst) was higher in patients using MC versus nonusers; 17.5 versus 14.4 (P<0.001). Pain was the symptom with the highest frequency of improvement 34/42 (81%), followed by appetite 34/44 (77.3%), and anxiety 32/44 (73%). MC improved the ability to tolerate treatment in 24/44 (54.5%). Cloudy thinking is the symptom that worsened the most 7/42 (16.7%), with decreased energy being experienced by 4/41 (9.8%) of the users.
MC was utilized by a significant portion of cancer patients in this sample, across age, diagnosis, stage, and treatment. Patients with a higher severity of baseline symptoms were more likely to use MC and report a favorable efficacy profile of MC. Minimal toxicity was reported in this cohort. Prospective studies are needed to define the efficacy and safety of MC.