Breast cancer patients are using cannabis, but many are missing this key step

Sources such as friends, the Internet and dispensaries — not doctors — are the preferred options for information about cannabis.

The GrowthOp 3 minute read October 19, 2021

70 per cent of study participants considered marijuana to be an alternative treatment similar to plant-based medicine. / Chinnapong / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Cannabis has long been used by some to help ease cancer-related symptoms. But now a new U.S. survey shows that while this is still the case, many patients are wary of sharing this information with their doctors.

The survey was conducted online and anonymously, involving more than 600 breast cancer patients. While the vast majority of participants were women, there were also a few men involved in the survey. The responses were gathered through Breastcancer.org and Healthline.com.

Per the results, 42 per cent of participants reported using cannabis to treat their symptoms, which included vomiting, pain, nausea, insomnia and stress. Responses indicated that while 39 per cent of participants mentioned cannabis use to their doctors, only four per cent of them asked further questions to obtain more information about the drug from their physicians.

According to participants, sources such as friends, the Internet and dispensaries were preferred options.

When it comes to why these patients are turning to cannabis, 70 per cent of participants considered the drug to be an alternative treatment similar to plant-based medicine, resulting in fewer side effects than the “chemicals” often present in other medications.

Dr. Marisa Weiss, lead author of the study, spoke with NBC News and shared some of her insights on the survey findings. Dr. Weiss reported that while it’s okay that people are using cannabis to treat cancer-related symptoms, she voiced concern that their doctors not being in the loop.

“Some of these products can interact with treatments they are taking, and there is a safety issue there,” she said. “We want to make sure they get relief from their symptoms without interfering with the treatments.”

It’s important for doctors to have all information about cannabis to help them guide their patients, including understanding the possible side effects of choosing an alternative treatment like weed.

Patients, for their parts, should be open with their doctors to ensure doctors can advise on how best to treat their diseases.

The FreshToast.com, a U.S. lifestyle site that contributes lifestyle content and, with their partnership with 600,000 physicians via Skipta, medical marijuana information to The GrowthOp.

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