MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Arum Kim, MD
Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine
NYU School of Medicine
Director of the Supportive Oncology Program
Perlmutter Cancer Center
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: There is increasing interest in medical marijuana and its applications for patients with cancers. Despite increasing access, little is known regarding doses of cannabinoids – specifically tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), methods of drug delivery, and differences in patterns of use between cancer and non-cancer patients.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Of a total of 11,590 patients in this study, 1900 (16.4%) were using medical marijuana for cancer related symptoms – most commonly pain, nausea, and cachexia or wasting syndrome. Although both cancer and non-cancer patients utilized higher THC forms most commonly, cancer patients were more likely to use balanced products with equal amounts of THC and CBD and less likely to use products with low THC and high cannabidiol when compared with non-cancer patients. Cancer patients also favored sublingual tinctures over vaporization forms that were most commonly used in non-cancer patients. In both groups, there was an increase in THC doses over time.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Patients using medical marijuana for cancer related symptoms seem to favor higher tetrahydrocannabinol formulations in a sublingual tincture, and are less likely to use “vape” cartridges as compared to non-cancer patients. Patients also use higher doses of THC over time.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Further study is needed to better characterize the types of cancer patients using this drug, efficacy, and potential risks and side effects of the various products available.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Certifying clinicians should have a better understanding of what medical marijuana products may benefit their patients, and this study helps bridge this gap in knowledge by providing information about what patients are purchasing.
No financial disclosures.
Arum Kim, Christopher N. Kaufmann, Roxanne Ko, Zujun Li, Benjamin H. Han. Patterns of Medical Cannabis Use among Cancer Patients from a Medical Cannabis Dispensary in New York State. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 2019; DOI: 10.1089/jpm.2018.0529
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