TRADITIONAL CANCER TREATMENTS
Breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer all begin in the same basic manner—a trigger causes cancer cells to divide and grow at an abnormally rapid rate. These cancer cells invade healthy tissue and form tumors. Recent advances in cancer treatment have resulted in individualized therapies that attack and slow the spread of cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are traditional cancer treatments that, unfortunately, have detrimental side effects. These side effects include severe nausea and vomiting that can last over a period of days resulting in lack of appetite, dehydration and weight loss.
Doctors often prescribe anti-nausea drugs in an attempt to keep these side effects under control. Sadly, some patients find little or no relief by using these anti-nausea drugs. Often, traditional medications may also cause patients to suffer from fever, bone pain, fatigue, anxiety, sleep disturbance and changes in heart rhythm. Cancer patients are left to endure the effects of having cancer, side effects from their treatment and side effects from the medication prescribed to alleviate the side effects of their treatment.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA AND CANCER PATIENTS
Numerous international medical studies have found that medical marijuana relieves pain and nausea in cancer patients. The results of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1975 found that ingested (rather than smoked) tetrahydrocannabinol resulted in antiemetic effects in patients and was significantly better than a placebo in reducing vomiting caused by chemotherapy drugs.
The Institutes of Medicine reported in 1999, “In patients already experiencing severe nausea or vomiting, pills are generally ineffective, because of the difficulty in swallowing or keeping a pill down, and slow onset of the drug effect. Thus an inhalation (but, preferably not smoking) cannabinoid drug delivery system would be advantageous for treating chemotherapy-induced nausea.” A significant number of patients report an increase in appetite and weight gain when using medical marijuana to combat the nausea and vomiting caused by their chemotherapy. Many patients report a decrease in depression as well. By using medical marijuana in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment, patients are more comfortable, happier and able to concentrate on getting better.