Medical Marijuana For Children With Cancer Broadly Supported By Doctors

Photo Credit: 7raysmarketing (pixabay.com)

Photo Credit: 7raysmarketing (pixabay.com)

According to a survey of pediatric oncologists which was published in the journal Pediatrics, 85% of physicians who were certified to prescribe medical marijuana were willing to help children with cancer access the medication. Additionally, 95% those who were not eligible to provide the medication supported medical marijuana access for pediatric cancer patients. The survey was sent to 654 doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists, social workers and registered nurses who care primarily for children with cancer at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Seattle Children’s Hospital Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Of the 288 who responded, a third were certified to prescribe medical marijuana. Physicians were less likely to support smoking marijuana (57%) than they were to support oral formulations (89%) for administering the medication, and 93% were interested in more advanced clinical trials investigating these uses. Physicians were more likely to support the use of medical marijuana in patients as their conditions advanced.

Of the respondents, 3 in 10 providers who were asked for medical marijuana at least once in the previous month were asked to prescribe it for nausea and vomiting (79%), and half of those requests additionally wanted to manage loss of appetite (52%). A quarter of patients wanted medical marijuana for pain management (26%), or for the management of depression and anxiety. While only 8% of providers recommended medical marijuana to patients in practice, 92% still said they would be willing to help children with cancer get the medication and approve of its use for treating children’s symptoms. Nearly half of providers cited the biggest obstacle in providing medical marijuana to pediatric cancer patients as not having standard medical marijuana formulations, dosages, or strength. Authors explained, “Given burgeoning interest in medical marijuana, especially in oncology care, it is critical that providers who are routinely approached for access to medical marijuana possess baseline knowledge on regulations, known benefits and harm… Randomized clinical trials using such MM [medical marijuana] formulations for supportive care in children with cancer are needed to better understand the therapeutic potential.”

This information has been provided by Forbes and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.