A small study has shown that cannabis can help reduce unpleasant symptoms in women with gynecological cancers. The five most common of these cancers are cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar.
45 women were involved in the trial, and the effect of medical marijuana on commonly experienced symptoms like nausea, vomiting, pain, anorexia and fatigue were measured. These symptoms can be the side effect of therapies (usually chemotherapy) to treat the cancers, or directly caused by the cancer itself.
The New York-based researchers included patients prescribed medical marijuana between 2016 and 2019, who had been using it from less than a month to over two years.
Data gathered and reviewed by the study authors were the exact formulation of cannabis prescribed, how often it was taken, symptom relief and side effects.
The results published in Gynecologic Oncology Report found that overall 7 in 10 of the gynecological cancer patients reported improvement of at least one symptom while taking cannabis.
The majority — 55 per cent of patients — were prescribed formulations with a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio, and inhaled and sublingual formulations were prescribed in more than 70 per cent of cases. Many patients were also prescribed more than one formulation.
The study also found that while medical marijuana was effective for relief of nausea/vomiting, anorexia, and insomnia in a majority of patients, it was less helpful for pain management. This is in keeping with previous findings.
Weaknesses of this study were that adjunct use of other medications or interventions for cancer-associated symptoms were not recorded. And although patients reported that medical marijuana provided symptom relief, this could have been affected by recall bias.
It’s also worth noting that the use of medical cannabis was not without side effects, and in fact 15 percent of the women discontinued using it because of these side effects.