Oncologists May Not Be Adequately Informed About Medical Marijuana

Oncologists May Not Be Adequately Informed About Medical Marijuana

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that while many oncologists are willing to discuss and even recommend medical cannabis to patients, the majority of them feel that they don't have enough knowledge about the plant medicine to make solid clinical recommendations. Nearly 80% of the conversations were initiated by patients, as reported online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO).

To target misinformation, the authors supported the loosening of federal restrictions and hoped to see the addressing of critical gaps in research and education regarding medical marijuana.

'Whatever they want to do to make themselves comfortable, ' said Pergam, who wasn't involved in the new research. Of the 237 participants who responded, more than half (55 percent) practice in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Accordingly, 80% of the surveyed oncologists admitted they had already discussed the issue of medical marijuana with their patients and only 30% of them stated they are informed sufficiently on this matter. A better understanding of the logistics surrounding medical marijuana likewise is required.

California enacted the United States' first medical marijuana law in 1996, and today its use is legal in more than 30 states, nearly all which list cancer as a qualifying condition. The article noted that the new survey is the first in decades to ask oncologists about their views on medical marijuana.

The term "medical marijuana" refers to nonpharmaceutical cannabis products that healthcare providers may recommend for therapeutic purposes that comply with state law. Oncologists in states that have actually not legislated medical cannabis need education about the healing alternatives that might be offered, he added. The products might be "smoked, vaporized, ingested, taken sublingually, or applied topically". Thus, oncologists have to rely on research conducted by pharmaceutical companies or to draw conclusions based on other patient outcomes.

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The report found conclusive evidence that oral medications containing THC, the intoxicating chemical in pot, can reduce the impact of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

For this study, researchers sent a survey on medical marijuana to a random sample of 400 oncologists.

There is a lack of robust data regarding medical marijuana for oncologists to base clinical decisions and discussions with patients. The survey included questions about clinical discussions of marijuana, views on comparative efficacy versus other therapies, risks of medical marijuana versus other therapies, and items to allow comparisons of respondent characteristics and their answers.

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

Overall, almost eight in 10 cancer doctors reported having discussed marijuana with patients or their families, with 46 percent recommending it for pain and other cancer-related problems to at least one patient in the past year. More than 70% of the patients also presented an overall improvement in their condition, after medical cannabis therapy.

The proportion of oncologists who reacted "I do not know" concerning medical cannabis's effectiveness varied by indicator, from 27.6% for poor appetite/cachexia to 45.1% for bad sleep. 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.

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