Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers among men and women. It has been estimated that over 400,000 new cases will be diagnosed in the US this year alone. The cannabis plant has been used for centuries to treat a variety of medical conditions, but recent research suggests it may also have anti-cancer properties.



Currently, 18 states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 36 states have authorized marijuana for medical use. Many cancer patients (16-24%) use cannabis to alleviate discomfort associated with the disease or therapy. “Marijuana has certain key characteristics that drive cancer patients to take it for nausea and vomiting, hunger, pain, and fatigue,” said Dr. Newcomb, the publication’s lead author. According to previous research, cannabis is often used by cancer patients who are in the late stages of their illness or who have other mental or physical health issues. The number of cancer survivors will increase by one million each year, including at least 150,000 colorectal cancer (CRC) patients, thanks to advancements in early diagnosis and treatment. As a result, about 2.7 to 4 million survivors may use cannabis for symptom treatment or other purposes. Cannabis usage and negative effects are not currently being tracked in cancer patients and survivors. The Division of Public Health Sciences’ Newcomb Group looked studied the demographic, behavioral, and clinical aspects of cannabis usage among colorectal cancer patients in Washington State. CRC is quite common, and there are many therapies that have negative side effects. As a result, CRC offers a useful framework for analyzing cannabis usage among cancer patients, both men and women. This research was published in the journal Cancer Causes & Control.  

The data for the participants came from the Puget Sound Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry, which is a population-based cancer registry (SEER). The registry is made up of data from cancer cases in the Puget Sound SEER area, which spans 13 counties. At least 3 months after diagnosis, patients were contacted by mail. Participants gave informed permission if they were interested. Telephone interviews, internet portals, and paper questionnaires were all used to collect data from the participants. Close-ended questions were used to collect all cannabis-related data. Patients also provided quality of life data through the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Colon (FACT-C), which included questions on physical, functional, social, and emotional well-being, as well as colorectal cancer concerns. Participants’ tumor location and stage were recorded. To evaluate the chances of “current cannabis usage” in connection to demographics, health behaviors, quality of life evaluations, and tumor features, logistic regression was used to generate odds ratios and 95 percent confidence intervals. 

A total of 1,433 people took part in the analytical research. Current smokers (95 percent CI=1.21-2.98) were twice as likely as past smokers (95 percent CI=1.38-2.45) to consume cannabis. In comparison to non-drinkers and occasional drinkers, light-to-moderate and heavy drinkers were more likely to consume cannabis. Current cannabis usage was more likely to be linked with poor quality of life (OR=1.52, 95 percent CI=1.14-2.04). Participants with distant stage CRC were three times more likely than those with localized CRC to use cannabis (95 percent CI=2.03-4.17). 

Finally, further study is required to determine the different kinds of cannabis usage, their patterns, and reasons for use among cancer survivors. The majority of CRC patients smoked cannabis. Although current data is limited, this behavior may raise the chance of poor pulmonary consequences. “Although this field of research is underfunded, we utilized this data to drive the submission of a CCSG pilot project, and now I’ve partnered with 11 other cancer centers throughout the United States to establish a consortium monitoring cannabis usage in cancer patients,” Dr. Newcomb said. According to the findings of this research, cannabis is utilized to treat a range of cancer-related symptoms and therapies. “There is a clear and urgent need for further research to understand the benefits and risks of cancer patients’ cannabis usage so that patients and physicians may make educated, evidence-based choices regarding the use of cannabis for symptom management,” the Newcomb Group stated.

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