Potential Benefits of Cannabis for Pancreatic Cancer


Last week, “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek announced that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
According to the Hirschberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and treatment options are limited to those that relieve symptoms or extend survival- surgery, radiation, chemotherapy- but seldom result in a cure. However, several complimentary therapies have been suggested for the treatment of chemotherapy-related side effects and to improve survival, including cannabis.

Similarly, Sharafi and colleagues (2019) reviewed several articles showing that cannabinoid receptors are expressed in pancreatic cancer. CBD, THC, and other cannabis-based agents reduced tumor growth in vitro. Further, two studies reported that the combined effects of CBD and chemotherapy prolonged survival and reduced tumor growth in mouse models of pancreatic cancer. The authors concluded that although cannabinoids appear to have promise as an adjunctive therapy, “[c]linical studies on the utility of cannabinoids in the treatment of pancreatic cancer are lacking and urgently needed” (p. 5).

Indeed, a search of ClinicalTrials.gov revealed only one clinical trial on the effects of cannab for pancreatic cancer; this study is not yet recruiting.Citation: van de Donk T, Niesters M, Kowal MA, Olofsen E, Dahan A, van Velzen M. An experimental randomized stuy on the analgesic effects of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis in chronic pain patients with fibromyalgia. Pain. 2018 Dec 20