Despite Feeling Unequipped, Many Oncologists Recommend Medical Marijuana for Patients

Marijuana, also called pot, grass, cannabis, weed, hemp, hash, ganja, and a multitude of other names, has been used in herbal remedies for centuries. There are a number of biologically active compounds in marijuana, which are called cannabinoids. The two most-studied compounds in marijuana are:

  • delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes marijuana’s high
  • cannabidiol (CBD), which doesn’t cause a high

While marijuana is federally illegal in the United States, more than half of the states, as well as the District of Columbia, have passed laws legalizing the use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions.

A survey of U.S. oncologists has found that most talked to their patients about medical marijuana and almost half recommended it, but only 30% of oncologists felt sufficiently informed about medical marijuana.

The research was published online on May 10, 2018 by the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read the abstract of “Medical Oncologists’ Beliefs, Practices, and Knowledge Regarding Marijuana Used Therapeutically: A Nationally Representative Survey Study.”

It’s important to know that marijuana is NOT a treatment for breast cancer. It is used to ease the side effects of treatment and pain caused by the cancer. Still, because marijuana is federally illegal, research on medical marijuana is limited. Anecdotal evidence suggests that marijuana may ease pain, nausea, hot flashes, loss of appetite, and anxiety caused by a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In this study, the researchers mailed a survey on medical marijuana to a random representative sample of 400 medical oncologists in the United States; 237 completed the survey. Of the oncologists who responded to the survey:

  • 65.8% were male
  • 57.9% were white
  • 36% finished oncology training more than 25 years ago
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Financial Burden of Breast Cancer More Difficult for Black Women

The costs associated with breast cancer treatment and follow-up care can be a financial strain for some people and their families, even with health insurance.

Besides the costs of treatments such as surgery or radiation, you may be facing extra expenses for transportation to and from a treatment center, child care while you’re having treatment, or special foods to make sure your nutritional needs are being met. If you’ve had to take time off from work and your income is lower, these daily living expenses can be challenging to cover.

Many studies have found that compared to white women, black women have worse outcomes after being diagnosed with breast cancer. While research suggests that this is due in part to the different biology of breast cancer in black women, researchers wondered if black women faced different or worse financial problems after being diagnosed with breast cancer and if these problems may contribute to the difference in outcomes.

An analysis of data from the Carolina Breast Cancer Study strongly suggests that black women diagnosed with breast cancer have more financial problems than white women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The research was published online on April 18, 2018 by the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read the abstract of “Financial Impact of Breast Cancer in Black Versus White Women.”

“Financial hardship plays a role in delays, discontinuation, and omission of treatment, and thus may correlate with racial disparities in breast cancer death,” said Stephanie Wheeler, the study’s lead author and associate professor in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina. “With cancer care costs rapidly increasing, culturally appropriate strategies are urgently needed to address this problem.”

Started in 1993, the Carolina Breast Cancer Study aims to improve the understanding of breast…

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