Patterns of Cannabis Use Among Cancer Patients

Overview

In 2018, 43.5 million people aged 12 years or older in the United States (US) used cannabis (marijuana) in the past year1. The legal landscape of medical and recreational cannabis use is rapidly evolving with wide variation in state policies. The available delivery methods of cannabis have also undergone dramatic changes and include edibles, oils, tinctures, topicals, and inhaled forms. Vaping tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, has been implicated in the cause of severe respiratory illness2. Consequently, state-based policy changes are taking place at a time when research on the potential beneficial or adverse health effects of cannabis use and the impact on use among cancer patients across a variety of geographic settings remains limited. A survey of cancer patients conducted within a six-week period between 2015 and 2016 in the state of Washington, where medical and recreational cannabis use is legal, found that 24 percent of patients were active users3. This is coupled with survey evidence that a majority of US medical oncologists engage in discussions about cannabis use with patients, and almost half recommend it clinically; yet, few feel sufficiently informed to make recommendations regarding its use4. Common conditions for which it has been used among cancer patients include anorexia, nausea, and pain. The extent of use, the perceived and real benefits and risks of use, potential interactions with cancer treatment and other medications, and impact on comorbid conditions are uncertain. Clinicians should be aware of the extent of use in order to assess potential drug-drug interactions, side effects, and contraindications; hence, an understanding of how cancer patients and clinicians engage in discussions about cannabis use is essential. A first step in addressing research gaps regarding cannabis and cancer is to understand the patterns and extent of cannabis use among cancer patients, including those undergoing or having recently completed active treatment.

Funded Sites

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Legend

Pin Color Year
Green
2020
 
Cancer Center Address Patterns of Cannabis use Among Cancer Patients
FY20
Abramson Cancer Center 3400 Spruce St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 Check Mark
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University 2103 Cornell Road Cleveland, OH 44106 Check Mark
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 1100 Fairview Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109 Check Mark
Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina 86 Jonathan Lucas St., Charleston, SC 29425 Check Mark
Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota 420 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 Check Mark
Mayo Clinic Cancer Center 200 First St. SW, Rochester, MN 55905 Check Mark
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 1275 York Ave. New York, NY 10065 Check Mark
Moffitt Cancer Center 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612 Check Mark
Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health 3855 Health Sciences Drive, La Jolla, California 92093 Check Mark
OHSU Knight Cancer Institute 3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239 Check Mark
Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University 233 South 10th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107 Check Mark
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center University of Miami Miller School of Medicine 1475 NW 12th Avenue, Miami, FL 33136 Check Mark

Footnotes


1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP19-5068, NSDUH Series H-54). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/

2 Blount BC, Karwowski MP, Shields PG, et al. Vitamin E Acetate in bronchoalveolar-lavage fluid associated with EVALI. N Engl J Med. 2020; 382:697-705.

3 Pergam SA, Woodfield MD, Lee CM, et al. Cannabis use among patients at a comprehensive cancer center in a state with legalized medicinal and recreational use. Cancer. 2017; 123:4488-4497.

4 Braun IM, Wright A, Peteet J, et al. Medical oncologists’ beliefs, practices, and knowledge regarding marijuana used therapeutically: A nationally representative survey study. J Clin Oncol. 2018; 36:1957-1962.

Last Updated
October 08, 2020