IACM 2017 EPIDEMIOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS, SAFETY AND EFFICACY OF MEDICAL CANNABIS

IACM 2017 EPIDEMIOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS, SAFETY AND EFFICACY OF MEDICAL CANNABIS
EPIDEMIOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS, SAFETY AND EFFICACY OF
MEDICAL CANNABIS USE IN CANCER PATIENTS
Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider MA1,2, Raphael Mechoulam PhD3
, Victor Novack MD PhD1
1 Clinical Research Center, Soroka University Medical Center and Faculty of Health Sciences,
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er-Sheva, Israel. 2 Research Department, Tikun Olam
LTD. Israel. 3
School of Pharmacy, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
Background: Cancer is a major public health problem as the leading cause of death among
Americans. Palliative treatment aimed to alleviate pain and nausea in patients with advanced
disease is a cornerstone of oncology. In 2007, Israeli Ministry of Health began providing
approvals for medical cannabis, mainly for the palliation of the cancer symptoms. The aim of
this study is to characterize the epidemiology of cancer patients receiving medical cannabis
treatment and describe safety and efficacy of this therapy.
Methods: We analyzed the data routinely collected as part of the treatment program on 2,730
medical cannabis cancer patients registered in Tikun-Olam (TO) during two years.
Results: The cancer patients represented 60% of the population receiving license for medical
cannabis. The average age was 59.9±16.5 years, 54.3% women and 21.5% of the patients
reported previous experience with cannabis. The most frequent types of cancer were: breast
(16.7%), lung (13.6%), pancreatic (8.3%) and colorectal (8.1%) with 51.2% being at stage 4.
The main symptoms requiring therapy were: pain (76.0%, median intensity 7/10), sleep
problems (72.9%), weakness (66.6%), nausea (53.3%) and lack of appetite (48.8%). After six
months of follow up, 688 patients (25.2%) died and 243 (8.9%) stopped the treatment. Of the
remaining, 832 (46.2%) responded; 95.8% reported an improvement in their condition, 30
patients (3.6%) reported no change and four patients (0.4%) reported deterioration in their
medical condition.
Conclusions: Cannabis as a palliative treatment for cancer patients seems to be well tolerated,
effective and safe option to help patients cope with the malignancy related symptoms.
IACM 2017 EPIDEMIOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS, SAFETY AND EFFICACY OF MEDICAL CANNABIS