In a new study out of Israel, hundreds of cancer patients who were given cannabis as a palliative treatment reported substantial pain reduction and improved quality of life.
Researchers from Ben Gurion University and Soroka Medical Centre analyzed data collected between March 2015 and Feb. 2017 on more than 1,000 cancer patients being treated with cannabis medicine.
The data covered a total of 1,152 patients who first met with nurses, then had follow-up telephone interviews one month later and six months later to assess their pain level and quality of life.
Prior to the cannabis treatment, 50.2 percent of patients reported pain intensity of 8, 9 or 10 wherein 0 = no pain and 10 = “worst pain imaginable.” After six months of cannabis treatment, only five percent reported pain in this range. In terms of quality of life, only 19 percent of patients rated theirs as “good”, a figure that jumped to 70 percent after six months of cannabis treatment.
While 1,152 patients participated in the follow-up interviews, 3,357 patients in total started palliative cannabis treatment during the two years of the study. During this period, 903 patients died, 483 stopped cannabis treatment, and 339 reported side effects like dizziness, dry mouth and tiredness. The researchers say this demonstrates that medical marijuana is not necessarily an effective palliative treatment for all patients.
Next up, the researchers would like to conduct double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials to study marijuana’s palliative effect on numerous diseases.
“Cannabis therapy can improve the condition of many patients with a wide range of diseases,” said Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, speaking at the CannaTech conference in London, UK last month. “My advice to the UK is to permit clinical trials and studies of medicinal cannabis.”
Schleider’s study is the largest to date of long-term outcomes of palliative cannabis treatment in cancer patients. It will soon be published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.