Medical cannabis use: perceptions of Israeli oncologists
Cannabis is used by many cancer patients and is today the most widely used drug in cancer patients in Israel. The use of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa) for the treatment of various symptoms related to cancer, including pain, cachexy, anxiety, nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy is steadily increasing worldwide. The plant contains hundreds of active compounds, including Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which are considered to be the most clinically effective.
An investigation carried out at Ichilov hospital and published in the scientific journal Lancet revealed that cannabis was the most prevalent drug among cancer patients in Israel.
Since 2010, Israeli patients with cancer can obtain a permit for the use of cannabis for palliative purposes after a recommendation from their oncologist. According to the Israeli Ministry of Health, more than 10000 cancer patients receive a license each year, making it the most commonly prescribed drug by Israeli oncologists. Thus, Israeli oncologists are unique because of their vast expertise in the use of cannabis for the symptoms associated with cancer.
According to the results of the survey, 90% of oncologists in Israel find that cannabis is effective in treating cancer patients and 45% also think that cannabis treatment is safer than opiate treatment.
About half of 238 oncologists participated in the survey, a rate considered particularly high in such studies. 126 of 238 Oncologists (53%) responded to the survey. Among 126 oncologists, 87% prescribed medical cannabis.
Only a third of oncologists are in favor of legalization, on the contrary 54% of pain doctors support it. However, most of them note that they have not received sufficient training on cannabis as a medical treatment and lack sufficient knowledge.
These results are quite similar to those of a 2017 study who had examined 3000 patients in the united states suffering from chronic pain which 93% of medical cannabis licensees preferred this natural treatment to analgesics and opioid painkillers.
In the absence of scientific information on the effectiveness of cannabis therapy in oncology, a study was conducted to examine the cumulative experience and professional impression of oncologists in Israel, who are among the most experienced physicians in the world. world in the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Moreover, while the Ministry of Health recommends using cannabis in cancer patients only to relieve pain or nauseaOncologists also found that it was also helpful in improving mood, appetite, weakness, and fatigue.
With respect to the safety of treatment, most physicians noted that the treatment was relatively safe and had only mild side effects.
Interestingly, 45% of oncologists thought that cannabis treatment was safer than opioid treatment (similar to morphine for cancer pain).
Contrary to accepted recommendations, more than half of them would recommend cannabis as their first choice if they have to treat a family member.
Le Professor Wolf, Director of the Oncology Department of the Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv, who led the study together with Dr. Silvio Brill, Director of the Pain Treatment Clinic at Ichilov Hospital, said he There is no such thing as an experienced clinical body in the world, such as oncologists in Israel, who are used to using cannabis to fight against various cancer symptoms. Their cumulative experience is therefore of great importance. The investigation in question constitutes a "expert advice"One of a kind regarding the treatment of cannabis for medical purposes against cancer.
"The fact that many oncologists find that the treatment is effective for a wide range of problems, not just for pain or nausea, raises the question of where to treat cancer patients," Wolf said.
However, given the limited knowledge on the ground, prudent use of cannabis should be maintained, particularly because of the potential for prolonged side effects and even addiction, which are more common in young patients. In any case, there is no doubt that this is a controversial issue involving many non-scientific and non-medical interests and in which existing scientific knowledge is very inadequate, as in testifies the diversity of opinions and practices of different Physicians.