By Dan Even
More than two-thirds of cancer patients who were prescribed medical marijuana to combat pain are reportedly satisfied with the treatment, according to a comprehensive study conducted for the first time in Israel.
The study – conducted recently at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, in conjunction with the Israel Cancer Association – involved 264 cancer patients who were treated with medical marijuana for a full year.
|Medical marijuana leaves being sorted.
|Photo by: Dan Keinan
Some 61 percent of the respondents reported a significant improvement in their quality of life as a result of the medical marijuana, while 56 percent noted an improvement in their ability to manage pain. In general, 67 percent were in favor of the treatment, while 65 percent said they would recommend it to other patients.
The findings were presented earlier this month at an Israeli Oncologists Union conference in Eilat. The study was led by Dr. Ido Wolf, the director of oncology at the Sheba Cancer Center, with the assistance of researchers Yasmin Leshem, Damien Urbach, Adato Berliz, Tamar Ben Ephraim and Meital Gerty.
According to the study, the most common types of cancer for which medical marijuana is prescribed are lung cancer (21 percent ), breast cancer (12 percent ) and pancreatic cancer (10 percent ).
Researchers found that an average of 325 days passed between the time that patients were diagnosed with cancer and the time that they submitted permit requests to grow or possess medical marijuana. About 81 percent of those requests cited pain resulting from the illness. Some 8 percent of patients requested medical marijuana to combat nausea, while another 8 percent complained of weakness.
Most cancer patients who are currently being treated with medical marijuana are advised of the option only in the advanced stages of the illness, according to researchers. “The treatment should be offered to the patients in earlier stages of cancer,” the report notes.
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