About a Quarter of Seattle Cancer Patients use Medical Marijuana to Cope With Symptoms

shutterstock 181677458
shutterstock 181677458

A recent study found that patients are seeking advice outside of the traditional medical community and using marijuana to ease pain, nausea, and other cancer symptoms. 

Approximately one-quarter of cancer patients have used marijuana to help alleviate their cancer symptoms, according to a new study.

The Seattle Cancer Center Alliance questioned 926 cancer patients about marijuana use. Washington state has legalized both medical and recreational marijuana so access is easier for patients than in other states.

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The study found that about 24 percent of participants had used marijuana in the past year to alleviate their cancer symptoms. It also revealed that 21 percent of respondents used marijuana in the past month. Overall, 66% reported using marijuana at some point in their lives. Patients reported using marijuana for pain, nausea, depression, insomnia, and stress, all symptoms linked to having cancer.

Doctors and researchers are concerned about patients who may be educating themselves about marijuana use for cancer.

“Cancer patients desire but are not receiving information from their cancer doctors about marijuana use during their treatment, so many of them are seeking information from alternate non-scientific sources,” Dr. Steven Pergam, one of the researchers on the study said.

Marijuana is still a federally banned substance which makes researching it difficult. Patients often have to seek the help of non-medical professionals when learning about medical marijuana. As we reported last week, the vast majority of physicians are not educated on marijuana in medical school, and are not prepared to prescribe it.

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