Patients with mesothelioma cope with symptoms of the disease and side effects of cancer treatment such as chest pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Several clinical trials have found marijuana is effective in managing symptoms associated with cancer. Most often caused by workplace exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium. This is a thin, double-layer of tissue that surrounds the lungs, abdominal organs, and the heart. The most common type affects the lung tissue, known as the pleura. This is called pleural mesothelioma and it results from inhaling fibers of asbestos, which then get lodged in tissue and cause damage over the years. Pleural mesothelioma causes chest pains, difficulty breathing, coughing, and ultimately fatigue and serious pain. Treatment options depend on the stage of cancer and individual patient health, but it is often some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
In these trials, marijuana was found effective for:
Improved sleep quality
Global research efforts have increased in recent years because of a growing interest in the potential role of medical marijuana in cancer care. The research extends beyond the well-known THC chemical to include other compounds, such as CBD, collectively known as cannabinoids. The research has looked at marijuana not only as a means to control cancer symptoms and treatment side effects, but also as an anticancer therapy.
A 2014 study reported certain cannabinoid compounds in medical marijuana can kill a variety of cancer cells and block them from spreading. Researchers cited studies showing cannabinoids having anticancer effects in the following cancers: Lung, breast, prostate, skin, pancreatic, brain, bone, oral, thyroid and lymphoma.
A 2016 study found THC and other cannabinoids can kill cancer cells and inhibit angiogenesis, the process through which tumors grow new blood vessels that allow cancer cells to spread. The study also noted research in animals that showed cannabinoids enhanced the effect of cancer drugs designed to stop tumor growth and spreading.
Another 2016 study found THC and CBD inhibited the growth of neuroblastoma in test tube studies and mice studies. Of the two cannabinoids, CBD was more active against this cancer that affects adrenal glands and occurs most commonly in children under 5 years old.
Tinctures are placed under the tongue for a short amount of time and then swallowed. According to some patients, the effect of this medicine is less sedating than edibles made with cannabis butter, and the medicine is absorbed more quickly.
Cannabis capsules usually contain a mix of cannabis and other oils, or other oils infused with cannabis. Patients take these like they would any other pill.
Other edibles include hard candies, cold drinks and teas. It is important to follow dosing instructions carefully and not overeat marijuana edibles. Patients are recommended to start with a very small dose to gauge the effects.
If you live in a state that offers medical marijuana, ask your oncologist how it might benefit or interfere with your treatment plan. People assume it couldn’t hurt to take a natural substance, but cannabis products contain antioxidants that may protect cancer cells from the wanted effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
This means certain types of medical marijuana might have the potential to block your anticancer treatments from working properly. Your oncologist is your best resource for guidance on this matter.