Nov. 24, 2009 — The Journal of Clinical Oncology has published a study in 2006 investigating the use of cannabis to treat cancer-related cachexia, or “severe, unintentional weight-loss and wasting.”
Cannabis and cancer cachexia
One of the most frightening symptoms of advanced cancer is “cachexia”, or severe, unintentional weight-loss and wasting. It’s a terrible prognostic sign, and the only truly effective treatment is removal of the cancer. Treatment of this syndrome has the potential to improve quality of life in patients with advanced cancers. Various types of medications, including antidepressants, hormones, and cannabis derivatives have been tried with little effect. Treating the symptoms of incurable cancers is difficult and although we’re pretty good at it, we sometimes fail. Cannabis seems a plausible intervention, given the anecdotal and clinical data associating it with increased appetite, although appetite in normal, healthy individuals may be mediated by different pathways than the cachexia in cancer patients. Still, it’s worthy of investigation.
(As an aside, what a person with advanced cancer does to find relief is their own business. I hope that we don’t fail them so miserably that they have to resort to desperate measures. I once had an elderly patient who was shooting up heroin for his cancer pain because he didn’t understand the medical system well enough to seek proper help. He did fine on long-acting oxycodone.)
Read the full story at Scienceblogs.com.