A study has found that one in five patients in a Washington state cancer center used marijuana in the past month, and many in the overall patient group indicated frustration about not receiving information about marijuana from their doctors. The researchers reported that this could mean that some patients are not receiving important warnings about the potential dangers of marijuana use for some cancer patients.
Published online last month in the journal Cancer, the study involved a survey of 926 patients at the Seattle Cancer Center Alliance, located in one of the first states to authorize recreational use of marijuana via the voter initiative process. According to the survey, 66% of the patients were past users of marijuana, while 24% were past-year users and 21% were past-month users. The reported levels of recent use were generally confirmed through urine drug screening.
The cancer patients who engaged in recent use of marijuana reported that they did so to address physical symptoms, such as pain and nausea, or to deal with psychological issues, such as stress and depression.
“Cancer patients desire but are not receiving information from their cancer doctors about marijuana use during their treatment, so many of them are seeking information from alternate non-scientific sources,” said Steven Pergam, MD, MPH, who works at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
“We hope that this study helps to open up the door for more studies aimed at evaluating the risks and benefits of marijuana in this population,” Pergam added. This is important, because if we do not educate our patients about marijuana, they will continue to get their information elsewhere.”