The Cannabis plant has different components, it contains active ingredients called cannabinoids. One of these components is cannabidiol (CBD) which is the compound that does not make people feel ‘high’, unlike the component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which has psychoactive properties.
“Cannabidiol is already approved for use in clinics, which means we can quickly go on to test this in human clinical trials. If we can reproduce these affects in humans, cannabidiol could be in use in cancer clinics almost immediately.”
About the study
The 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is less than 7% in the UK, this is the worst survival rate of any 22 common cancers. This could partly be due to the fact that pancreatic cancer can be resilient to some chemotherapy.
There has been research that shows that this part of the plant has some medical benefits, one of which is helping to stop cell growth in certain types of cancer.
Lu Constable, Marketing and Communications Manager at Pancreatic Cancer Action says:
As Elisa told me Stephen’s story, I considered how the small discomforts I’d come in with made it harder for me to get around in the day or to sleep well at night. How they made me feel irritable and fragile. And how I could pay a negligible amount of money to a lovely woman to help soothe them for me. My ailments were absolutely nothing by comparison with Stephen’s, yet what he needs is elusive at best, prohibited at worst.
“Cancer is a mind fuck,” Wade says. “You’re hit with devastating and debilitating news that your loved one’s life has an expiration date and you realize your own powerlessness and that begins to take its toll on your spirit. All you can do is try to remember that love is the greatest gift you can give anyone.”
Artist Jason Naylor, whose self-described mission is to “spread color and positivity across the globe”, heard about Stephen’s plight through social media and made him the “Love” painting, which he hand-delivered to the couple, that hangs above Stephen and Wade’s bed.
When a patient visits Columbia Care for the first time, they meet with a pharmacist who takes them through a full consultation to determine what products they may respond to best.
Stephen describes the current state of his disease; “Stage 3-pancreatic cancer without the possibility of the Whipple procedure because of the placement of the tumor. They do a CT scan every three months and determine the next steps based on those results. A very risky surgery – I believe it’s only performed by one doctor in the US at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota – is my only option and we’re hoping to make that happen. But insurance has, so far, refused to pay for it or the chemotherapy I’ll need beforehand, and it is astronomically expensive.”
Marijuana is a plant that contains substances called cannabinoids. The cannabinoids found in marijuana plants may help treat the symptoms and side effects caused by cancer and cancer treatments. In addition to the naturally occurring cannabinoids found in marijuana plants, cannabinoid drugs have been developed in laboratories for use in helping to treat side effects and symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments.
It is important for patients to speak with their doctor to determine if marijuana would be helpful in their fight against pancreatic cancer. According to Anne-Marie Duliege, MD, PanCAN’s Chief Medical Officer, “Since there has not been sufficient data generated yet to produce consistent clinical results about the benefits of medical marijuana for patients, we encourage patients to discuss problems such as pain and appetite stimulation with their doctor to determine the right medications to help control such issues.”
The use of marijuana and cannabinoid drugs for medicinal purposes, such as controlling pain and stimulating appetite in cancer patients, have been and continue to be studied in the lab and in clinics. Consequently, conflicting information has been reported in clinical studies using cannabinoids as pain relievers or appetite stimulants for cancer patients.
This map shows U.S. states and territories where marijuana is legal for medical purposes.
(Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.)
Some studies have reported that patients regained appetite and sense of taste, while others reported cannabinoids are no more helpful than other prescription appetite stimulant medications. Likewise, some studies about pain relief report promising results, while others have shown cannabinoids are no more helpful than prescription medications for controlling pain.