Study: Cannabis in Oncology Practice

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Promoting MMJ Among Oncologist in the USA

By John Taenzler, Ph.D. for Cannabis Business Executive

In October 2018, a survey was conducted among 87 oncologists (ONCs) in 19 of the States where medical marijuana (MMJ) has been approved and available.  An objective of this research was to assess the depth of knowledge about cannabis pharmacology, state-specific regulations, and attitudes of national medical organizations toward MMJ.

In examining and assessing the perceptions and attitudes of these ONCs towards MMJ, physicians were asked about their current use of MMJ for their patients and given their current knowledge-base how likely they are to recommend MMJ in the future to patients with cancer.  These questions were used to segment ONCs based on their future willingness to recommend MMJ.Willing ONCs (n=48). Read More...

Our own Doctors Ostrow and Bearman have thoughts...

1. Need to separate effects on quality of life (QOL) from proliferation and survival

2. Every cancer is somewhat different, even if in same organ. So the genetics needed to predict response to a particular Cannabinoid preparation is not there yet, and the pharmaceutical companies are way ahead of us in determining receptors and pathways for genetic therapies. So even though I agree with Donald Abrams, I don’t see how we could design a face-to-face trial unless it was standard oncology treatment with and without cannabinoids added and focus on multiple outcomes besides longevity.

3. Many of the anecdotes of cannabis cures of cancer are of persons who refused standard treatments because of bad side effects. We would be much better off educating oncologists in terms of Cannabinoids as complementary therapies. This is how we’ve sold it to HIV docs.

-Dr. David G. Ostrow


These statistics show a drop since a study done in the mid 1990s where, as I recall, at that time 60% of oncologists said they had no problem with their patients using cannabis. The drop may be more due to the availability of better anti nauseants than anything else. Lack of education in medical school on the oncology benefits of cannabis and cannabinoids were a problem then and there appears to have been little change in the past quarter of a century.

This lack of knowledge about the anti proliferative effect of cannabis amongst oncologists is very disturbing. What else are they uninformed, under informed or erroneously informed about? We have known since Dr. Billy Mays's work at the Medical College of Virginia in 1974 that cannabis has anti cancer properties. As long ago as 2008 at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health I issued a review article entitled something like "Cannabis and Cancer; Progress and Promise". It discussed the  positive results in cannabis killing cancer cells in tissue culture and animal studies. The evidence has only continued to mount.

Dr. Donald Abrams hits it tight on the head when he says that there is more than enough basic science research results and anecdotal reports to justify doing double blind studies. In fact, the first such double blind human study was done in the United Kingdom by adding tincture of cannabis to the conventional regime for treatment of glioblastoma. It extended life by 40 percent over conventional treatment alone, or 180 days.

While that may not seem like a lot, it was a lower dose that most lay healers use and if John McCain's physicians had  included it with his conventional treatment regimen it is possible, even likely, that  he would have lived long enough to vote against Brett Kavanaugh for SCOTUS Associate Justice if he had chosen to do so.

Clearly AACM and others need to provide CME for oncologists on the  science, which is plentiful. The research shows that cannabis promotes inhibition of the ID-1 gene responsible for metastasis, it inhibits angiogenesis, and promotes apoptosis. This material should be taught in medical school and hopefully we will see physicians exposed to these studies that research scientists are well aware of.

-Dr. David Bearman