In a nutshell
This study investigated the effectiveness of medical cannabis in managing side effects associated with chemotherapy in patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL). This study concluded that medical cannabis may be effective in relieving therapy-related side effects in these patients.
Chemotherapy remains the standard first-line (primary) treatment for HL. One of the most commonly used regimens is ABVD (doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine). The side effects associated with chemotherapy may affect a patient’s quality of life or interrupt treatment. 5 to 26% of patients experience severe or life-threatening nausea or vomiting with ABVD treatment.
Medical cannabis may reduce the side effects associated with chemotherapy. The effectiveness of medical cannabis in relieving side effects in patients with HL remains under investigation.
Methods & findings
This study involved 133 patients with HL. 88.3% of patients had previously achieved a complete response (disappearance of all signs of cancer) after first-line chemotherapy. 51 patients (38%) used medical cannabis (cigarettes or drops under the tongue) during treatment. Patients were followed-up for an average of 2 years.
Nausea (42%), general discomfort (24%), pain (18%), decreased appetite (13%), and anxiety (3%) were the most common reasons for cannabis use. Patients using cannabis reported improvements in pain (94%), general well-being (87%), appetite (82%), and nausea (79.5%). 81.5% of patients reported that cannabis was highly effective in relieving their symptoms.
Of those using cannabis, 47% of patients reported side effects. Most of these were very mild. 18% of patients reported feeling weak. Dizziness, anxiety, and sleeping problems were also reported (5% each).
The bottom line
This study concluded that medical cannabis may be effective in relieving therapy-related side effects in patients with HL. The authors suggest that the short-term benefits of medical cannabis should be carefully considered against possible long-term effects.
The fine print
The patient population in this study was quite small. Larger studies are needed to further determine the role of medical cannabis in anti-cancer therapy management.
Also, this study collected data from patients using a questionnaire. Patients answered the questionnaire at about 19.5 months after chemotherapy. Thus, self-reported patient data may be biased.
Published By :
Oct 19, 2018
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