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Transforming Palliative Care: The Impact of Medical Cannabis on Cancer Patients

Transforming Palliative Care: The Impact of Medical Cannabis on Cancer Patients

Cancer remains a critical public health challenge worldwide, being a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Pain management is a cornerstone of cancer care, with opioids traditionally playing a central role due to their high success rate of 80-90%. Despite their efficacy, opioids are not a panacea; a subset of patients either do not respond adequately over time or experience debilitating side effects.



In this context, the search for alternative therapeutic options is paramount. A prospective study conducted in collaboration with Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University aimed to assess the epidemiological characteristics, safety, efficacy, and side effects of cannabis products and strains for palliative care in a large cohort of 2,970 cancer patients. This study represents a significant effort to evaluate medical cannabis's role in enhancing palliative care for cancer patients, highlighting its potential as an effective and safe alternative.


The study encompassed a diverse group of 2,970 cancer patients, with a mean age of 59.5 years, demonstrating a broad demographic range. The most commonly used cannabis strains were Alaska, Erez, and Avidekel, reflecting a tailored approach to symptom management.

Key findings from the study include:


  • A vast majority of the patients (94.1%) initiated cannabis treatment, with a high response rate to the intake questionnaire (80.7%).

  • An overwhelming 95.9% of patients reported an improvement in their condition, underscoring the potential of cannabis treatment as a highly effective palliative care option.

  • Significant relief from nausea and vomiting was reported by 91.0% of patients, addressing one of the most common and distressing symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment.

  • After six months of cannabis treatment, there was a notable reduction in the consumption of other medications, including opioids, which is particularly relevant given the current opioid crisis and the risk of dependency associated with these drugs.

  • The study documented a significant decrease in pain intensity, with only 4.6% of patients reporting high levels of pain after treatment compared to 52.9% at the outset.

  • Quality of life saw a marked improvement, with 69.5% of patients reporting good quality of life six months into treatment, compared to only 18.7% prior to starting cannabis therapy.

  • Side effects were reported by 30.1% of respondents, with dizziness and dry mouth being the most common, yet these were generally well tolerated.



This comprehensive study provides compelling evidence supporting medical cannabis as a viable and safe option for palliative care in cancer patients, offering significant improvements in symptoms, quality of life, and potentially reducing reliance on traditional medications like opioids. The findings illuminate the path forward for integrating cannabis into palliative care regimes, emphasizing the need for further research to optimize treatment protocols and patient outcomes.


For a detailed exploration of the study's methodology, results, and implications for the future of cancer palliative care, the full article is available at https://tikun-olam.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/2018-Prospective-analysis-of-safety-and-efficacy-of-medical-cannabis-in-large-1.pdf. This research underscores the transformative potential of medical cannabis in palliative care, offering new horizons for patients grappling with the multifaceted challenges of cancer.


THCannabis Marketing Team

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