Cancer docs feel unprepared, but recommend marijuana anyway - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Cancer docs feel unprepared, but recommend marijuana anyway

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File). FILE - This Sept. 15, 2015 file photo shows marijuana plants a few weeks away from harvest in a medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. A survey of U.S. cancer doctors released on Thursday, May 10, 2018, find... (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File). FILE - This Sept. 15, 2015 file photo shows marijuana plants a few weeks away from harvest in a medical marijuana cultivation center in Albion, Ill. A survey of U.S. cancer doctors released on Thursday, May 10, 2018, find...

By CARLA K. JOHNSON
AP Medical Writer

SEATTLE (AP) - Nearly half of U.S. cancer doctors who responded to a survey say they've recently recommended medical marijuana to patients, although most say they don't know enough about medicinal use.

The results reflect how marijuana policy in some states has outpaced research, the study authors said. All 29 states with medical marijuana programs allow doctors to recommend it to cancer patients. But no rigorous studies in cancer patients exist. That leaves doctors to make assumptions from other research on similar prescription drugs, or in other types of patients.

"The big takeaway is we need more research, plain and simple," said Dr. Ilana Braun of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who led the study published Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Patients want to know what their doctors think about using marijuana. In the new study, cancer doctors said their conversations about marijuana were almost always started by patients and their families, not by the doctors themselves.

Overall, nearly eight in 10 cancer doctors reported having discussed marijuana with patients or their families, with 46 percent recommending it for pain and other cancer-related problems to at least one patient in the past year.

Among those who said they recommended marijuana, 56 percent said they did not have sufficient knowledge to do so.

"They're not as close-minded as you might think, and they also feel they have a lot to learn," Braun said.

The survey was conducted in a random sample of cancer doctors; researchers got completed surveys from 237 doctors, or 63 percent.

Marijuana is considered an illegal drug by federal officials and federal restrictions have limited research. Last year, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded the lack of scientific information about marijuana poses a risk to public health.

There's evidence marijuana can treat chronic pain in adults and medications similar to marijuana can ease nausea from chemotherapy.

In the study, 67 percent of cancer doctors said they view marijuana as a useful addition to standard pain therapies, with 75 percent saying it posed less risk of overdose than opioids. About half view marijuana as equal to, or more effective than, standard treatments for cancer-related nausea.

Marijuana isn't harmless. The National Academies report said pot smoking may be linked to higher chances of traffic accidents, chronic bronchitis from long-term use and schizophrenia and other causes of psychosis, especially in the most frequent users.

Dr. Steven Pergam of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance answers questions about marijuana's safety from his colleagues at the treatment center.

His responses depend on the patient. A dying patient with cancer that's spread? "Whatever they want to do to make themselves comfortable," said Pergam, who wasn't involved in the new research. A patient with leukemia, however, should be warned of a theoretical possibility of a fungal infection tied to cannabis use.

"If we're not comfortable having these discussions, patients will get information from other sources, and it's not going to be as reliable," he said.

___

Follow AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson on Twitter: @CarlaKJohnson

___

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Latest health & fitness newsLatest health & fitness newsMore>>

  • Nurse dead in Congo as Ebola vaccination campaign starts

    Nurse dead in Congo as Ebola vaccination campaign starts

    Monday, May 21 2018 7:22 AM EDT2018-05-21 11:22:03 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 9:04 AM EDT2018-05-21 13:04:26 GMT
    Congo's health minister says a nurse has died from Ebola in Bikoro, the town in the country's northwest where the outbreak began, as the country begins a vaccination campaign.
    Congo's health minister says a nurse has died from Ebola in Bikoro, the town in the country's northwest where the outbreak began, as the country begins a vaccination campaign.
  • US approves 1st drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

    US approves 1st drug developed to prevent chronic migraines

    Thursday, May 17 2018 7:20 PM EDT2018-05-17 23:20:12 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 8:52 AM EDT2018-05-21 12:52:29 GMT
    US regulators approve 1st drug designed to prevent chronic migraines. (Source: Raycom Media)US regulators approve 1st drug designed to prevent chronic migraines. (Source: Raycom Media)

    US regulators approve 1st drug designed to prevent chronic migraines.

    US regulators approve 1st drug designed to prevent chronic migraines.

  • Medical teams sent to south India amid deadly virus outbreak

    Medical teams sent to south India amid deadly virus outbreak

    Monday, May 21 2018 7:12 AM EDT2018-05-21 11:12:01 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 8:52 AM EDT2018-05-21 12:52:17 GMT
    Officials say a deadly virus has killed at least three people in south India, and medical teams have been dispatched to the area amid reports that up to six other people could have died and others are badly ill.
    Officials say a deadly virus has killed at least three people in south India, and medical teams have been dispatched to the area amid reports that up to six other people could have died and others are badly ill.
  • NationalMore>>

  • Crews find wreckage of small plane that crashed in Vermont

    Crews find wreckage of small plane that crashed in Vermont

    Monday, May 21 2018 8:53 AM EDT2018-05-21 12:53:20 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 9:07 AM EDT2018-05-21 13:07:12 GMT
    State Police say search crews have found the wreckage of a small plane that crashed into the woods in Vermont's Green Mountains The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday only the pilot was on board.
    State Police say search crews have found the wreckage of a small plane that crashed into the woods in Vermont's Green Mountains The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday only the pilot was on board.
  • Man faces murder charges in restaurant crash that killed kin

    Man faces murder charges in restaurant crash that killed kin

    Monday, May 21 2018 12:41 AM EDT2018-05-21 04:41:50 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 9:07 AM EDT2018-05-21 13:07:11 GMT
    (Gaston County Sheriff's Office via AP). This Sunday, May 20, 2018, booking photo provided by the Gaston County Sheriff's Office shows Roger Self. Police say that Self intentionally rammed a vehicle into a restaurant shortly after midday Sunday, May 20...(Gaston County Sheriff's Office via AP). This Sunday, May 20, 2018, booking photo provided by the Gaston County Sheriff's Office shows Roger Self. Police say that Self intentionally rammed a vehicle into a restaurant shortly after midday Sunday, May 20...
    Authorities say man intentionally rammed vehicle into a North Carolina restaurant busy with weekend lunch crowd, killing his daughter, another person and injuring several others.
    Authorities say man intentionally rammed vehicle into a North Carolina restaurant busy with weekend lunch crowd, killing his daughter, another person and injuring several others.
  • Survivors of Texas massacre confront 'spiritual war zone'

    Survivors of Texas massacre confront 'spiritual war zone'

    Monday, May 21 2018 12:52 AM EDT2018-05-21 04:52:04 GMT
    Monday, May 21 2018 9:07 AM EDT2018-05-21 13:07:00 GMT
    (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP). A billboard is seen off of I-45 near Santa Fe, Texas, where a student shot and killed eight classmates and two teachers at Santa Fe High School.(Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP). A billboard is seen off of I-45 near Santa Fe, Texas, where a student shot and killed eight classmates and two teachers at Santa Fe High School.

    The shooting suspect, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, has been jailed on capital murder charges.

    The shooting suspect, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, has been jailed on capital murder charges.

Powered by Frankly