Tackling Breast Cancer with Medical Cannabis

Cannabis Patient Care, October/November 2021, Volume 2, Issue 3
Pages: 6

Overview of the October/November issue

Welcome to our next edition of Cannabis Patient Care! The focus of this issue is breast cancer. Most of us are no stranger to breast cancer: According to the world health organization, 2.3 million women globally were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 (1). In addition, breastcancer.org reported that about 1 in 8 women in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes (2). Indeed, it seems as if everyone has had some experience with breast cancer either personally or with a loved one or friend going through breast cancer treatment. In my own family, two of my aunts have gone through treatment and luckily went into remission after.

There is a lot of talk about the benefits of medical cannabis and if it can be an anticancer agent. In this issue, we discuss this subject carefully. The biggest takeaway for me from preparing this content was that not all cancers—and breast cancers—are equal. There are subtypes upon subtypes. In addition, there are many more treatment options available to patients than even say, 10–15 years ago. What is clear to me after speaking with various doctors, nurses, patients, and advocates is that more research is desperately needed as well as clear communication with your medical team and education all around.

In our first article in this issue, we spoke with Dr. Marissa Weiss to get some tips and talking points to help patients start a conversation about the therapeutic use of cannabis for breast cancer. Dr. Weiss shares how cannabis can be utilized for symptom management before, during, and after breast cancer treatment, why cannabis can be a complicated topic for doctors to discuss with their patients, and why it is important for patients to advocate for themselves.

Next, Ruth Fisher offers us a high-level overview of the current research efforts focused on medical cannabis and breast cancer. She noted that research on cannabis as a potential treatment specifically for breast cancer didn’t begin until the 1990s; since then, there have been several thousand preclinical studies, most of which have been conducted only within the last 10 years. Scientific research on breast cancer is thus still in its early stages, but Fisher provides an update on where it stands.

As with most medical cannabis uses, patients continue to push for more information and research. In our “Patient Focus” article we spoke with breast cancer survivor Nicole DiMonda, who, along with her husband, Jaime Brambila faced life and death decisions and turned to cannabis for help.

Nurses play another special role on your medical care team—often on the “frontlines” with patients and relaying pertinent information to doctors. Kristin L. Wohlschlagel, RN, identifies herself as a nurse who understands that we need conventional treatments, standard of care treatments, and that cannabis has a place for symptom control and potentially as a therapeutic. In the article on page 20, Wohlschlagel shares a wealth of information from various patients she interviewed, her own personal experiences, and more.

The piece titled “On the Other Side of the Nurse’s Station: A Nurse Turned Medical Cannabis Patient” shares the unique story of Nique Pichette, MSN, RN, who is a two-time breast cancer survivor and medical cannabis patient. Pichette’s journey led her to life-changing decisions and reframed her view on medical cannabis as a drug of abuse.

Finally, David Hodes spoke with several doctors in the US to find out more about the role medical cannabis plays in a breast cancer treatment plan. He noted that mainstream breast cancer doctors, working on treatments for one of the more successfully treatable type of cancers, are watching medical cannabis research developments carefully.

On October 27th, we hosted a special breast cancer webcast with a presentation from Dr. Marissa Weiss and a panel discussion with Nicole DiMonda and Jaime Brambila. If you missed the live event, please sign up to watch on demand (for free) and learn valuable insights: https://www.cannapatientcare.com/cpc/breast.

References

(1) https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/breast-cancer.

(2) https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics.

Megan L'Heureux

Group Editorial Director

mlheureux@mjhlifesciences.com