Rates of cannabis use in patients with cancer

K. Martell, A. Fairchild, B. LeGerrier, R. Sinha, S. Baker, H. Liu, A. Ghose, I.A. Olivotto, M. Kerba

Abstract


Background

A comprehensive assessment of cannabis use by patients with cancer has not previously been reported. In this study, we aimed to characterize patient perspectives about cannabis and its use.

Methods

An anonymous survey about cannabis use was offered to patients 18 years of age and older attending 2 comprehensive and 2 community cancer centres, comprising an entire provincial health care jurisdiction in Canada (ethics id: hreba-17011).

Results

Of 3138 surveys distributed, 2040 surveys were returned (65%), with 1987 being sufficiently complete for analysis (response rate: 63%).

Of the respondents, 812 (41%) were less than 60 years of age; 45% identified as male, and 55% as female; and 44% had completed college or higher education.

Of respondents overall, 43% reported any lifetime cannabis use. That finding was independent of age, sex, education level, and cancer histology. Cannabis was acquired through friends (80%), regulated medical dispensaries (10%), and other means (6%). Of patients with any use, 81% had used dried leaves. Of the 356 patients who reported cannabis use within the 6 months preceding the survey (18% of respondents with sufficiently complete surveys), 36% were new users. Their reasons for use included cancer-related pain (46%), nausea (34%), other cancer symptoms (31%), and non-cancer-related reasons (56%).

Conclusions

The survey demonstrated that prior cannabis use was widespread among patients with cancer (43%). One in eight respondents identified at least 1 cancer-related symptom for which they were using cannabis.


Keywords


Cannabis; marijuana; symptoms



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3747/co.25.3983






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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)