The research team studied 926 different patients who were all seeking treatment from the Seattle Cancer Center Alliance. The research team chose to study a population from Washington state because the drug is legal there and therefore researchers assumed that patients would be more upfront about their attitudes and usage of the drug, because they would not be afraid of getting in trouble with the law. The research team found that, of the surveyed patients, sixty-six percent had used marijuana in the past, twenty-four percent had used the drug in the last year, and twenty-one percent had used it within the last month. Analysis of urine samples collected from the surveyed patients corroborated this data by revealing that roughly fourteen percent of patients had signs of recent marijuana use which aligned with the approximately eighteen percent who had reported use within the last week.
Patients generally reported using the drug to alleviate physical symptoms such as pain or nausea or psychological symptoms such as stress and depression.
While the results of the study do indicate an upswing in patients’ use, which would make sense compared to national attitudes, the researchers also collected some additional data that may be more relevant to the medical community.
Out of everyone polled in the sample, seventy-four percent of patients said that they wanted more information about the use of marijuana to relieve the symptoms of cancer from their medical providers. That number is even higher than the number of patients who report using the drug. Whether medical providers agree with the use of marijuana for alleviating cancer symptoms or not, it’s clear that providers certainly need to be providing patients with more information. If patients don’t get informed about the drug from their doctor, then they’ll get their information elsewhere. As discussed, while marijuana can have some benefits for cancer patients, there’s also the possibility of negative side effects. Patients should hear about the good and bad associated with using the drug from a reliable source.