The Cancer Center of the University of Colorado in the US has surveyed professionals in this branch of medicine with very revealing results. According to this survey, 73% of these doctors think that medical cannabis offers benefits to cancer patients; nevertheless, slightly less than half of them (46%), would administer it to their patients. We investigate this story further.
In previous articles we told you about Weed the People, the documentary available on Netflix in which we learn about cases of boys and girls suffering from cancer who show improvement after treatment with cannabis, with some even going as far as overcoming the disease. The oncologist featured in this footage confesses that she knew very little about cannabis cancer treatments before beginning to study and treat some cases. This lack of knowledge occurs because the plant is still criminalised due to prohibition.
General concern: lack of knowledge about the plant.
Considering this situation, it is not surprising that although 73% of medical oncologists surveyed by the University of Colorado Cancer Center believe in the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, only 46% of them know for certain that they would give a plant-based treatment to their patients. The reason for this? The ignorance the vast majority of them have about how to administer it.
The results of this study reveal that the concerns most echoed by these professionals related to the lack of understanding about cannabis and its properties, not knowing what dose to administer to patients, the products on the market, where they can be obtained, or the possibility of combining a cannabis treatment with other medications or not.
“I think in some cases we are missing a useful tool. Professionals believe that it has benefits, but they do not feel comfortable recommending it, "explained Ashley E. Glode, lead author of the work.
48 specialist oncologists, 47 doctors, 53 nurses and 17 pharmacists have taken part in this study, which is presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
Oncologists receive information from their patients.
Another result has to do with limited training that these professionals have on the subject. 79% of respondents answered that they would feel more comfortable and prepared prescribing medical marijuana if there were more specific educational programmes and university studies about it. Where do these doctors usually get their information from? 68% confessed that their patients provide the most data on cannabis use, although 55% also go to the media to further their knowledge, and 53% mentioned other sources.
Lack of regulation causes this situation.
"Still, the biggest problem is the lack of certainty in the dosage because it is not regulated. The limited data suggests that patients should start with low doses, with no more than 10 mg of THC in any one dose, but we don't know if that's what they're really getting. So, from a consumption point of view, inhalation and smoking are preferred least due to possible lung damage. Many doctors recommend edibles or oils, but we still do not have data that compares doses between these different types”: these are the conclusions that this study has reached.
Are these static conclusions? No, insomuch as Ashley E. Glode and her team face a new challenge - expanding the survey from a representative sample in Colorado (as in this study) to a sample that extends more to national data and can, therefore, tell us more about the position of medical oncologists in the US with regard to cannabis.