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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 510392, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/510392
Research Article

The Medical Necessity for Medicinal Cannabis: Prospective, Observational Study Evaluating the Treatment in Cancer Patients on Supportive or Palliative Care

1Division of Oncology, Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care Unit, Rambam Health Care Campus, 31096 Haifa, Israel
2Faculty of Medicine, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, 31096 Haifa, Israel

Received 23 March 2013; Revised 16 June 2013; Accepted 24 June 2013

Academic Editor: Adair Santos

Copyright © 2013 Gil Bar-Sela et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background. Cancer patients using cannabis report better influence from the plant extract than from synthetic products. However, almost all the research conducted to date has been performed with synthetic products. We followed patients with a medicinal cannabis license to evaluate the advantages and side effects of using cannabis by cancer patients. Methods. The study included two interviews based on questionnaires regarding symptoms and side effects, the first held on the day the license was issued and the second 6–8 weeks later. Cancer symptoms and cannabis side effects were documented on scales from 0 to 4 following the CTCAE. The distress thermometer was used also. Results. Of the 211 patients who had a first interview, only 131 had the second interview, 25 of whom stopped treatment after less than a week. All cancer or anticancer treatment-related symptoms showed significant improvement ( ). No significant side effects except for memory lessening in patients with prolonged cannabis use ( ) were noted. Conclusion. The positive effects of cannabis on various cancer-related symptoms are tempered by reliance on self-reporting for many of the variables. Although studies with a control group are missing, the improvement in symptoms should push the use of cannabis in palliative treatment of oncology patients.