As mentioned above, basically all the research to show whether cannabinoids can cure cancer has been done in the laboratory. It is therefore important to be very cautious in extrapolating these results to real patients. Anecdotal reports on the use of cannabis have been historically useful in providing clues about the biological processes controlled by the endocannabinoid system and the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids.
In the specific case of cancer there is a notable presence of video and Internet reports claiming that cannabis can cure cancer. These anecdotal claims may be completely or partially true in some cases but generally remain (at least to date) weak and dark. For example:
- It is not known if the (alleged) effect of cannabis was due to a placebo effect.
- It is not known if the tumor (supposedly) stopped growing natural / endogenous reasons (some spontaneous regressions are due to the anti-tumor defenses of the body).
- How many patients is not known to have taken cannabis and have not obtained any therapeutic benefit, ie, what is the (supposed) effectiveness of therapy based on cannabis.
- Since most patients have probably gone through the standard before or simultaneously with cannabis therapy, do not know whether the (alleged) effect of cannabis was due (at least in part) to standard therapy, perhaps reinforced by cannabis, although we have no proof.
- We do not know what the parameters of tumor progression have been monitored and how long the patient has been monitored. Many potentially beneficial effects of anticancer drugs (cannabis or in this case) are short-term actions, but what about free survival long term progression and overall survival?
- Cancer is a very heterogeneous disease, and so far, no scientist has collected a sufficient number of patients to study a particular type of cancer and to support the idea that cannabinoids are effective drugs for this type of cancer.
Conclusion: Although it is possible (and desirable, of course) that cannabis preparations have exercised an antineoplastic activity in specific patients with cancer, the current anecdotal evidence on this issue is quite poor and, unfortunately, still far from supporting that cannabinoids are effective anticancer drugs for large patient populations.
Do cannabinoids inhibit cancer growth? (Clinical Research)
The results published so far are only Phase I clinical trial to test whether cannabinoids are safe and can reduce cancer in patients. Nine people with recurrent glioblastoma multiform, the most aggressive brain tumor, with advanced and standard therapy who had previously failed highly purified THC received through a catheter directly into your brain.
Under these conditions the administration of the cannabinoid was safe and could be achieved without unwanted effects. In addition, although you cannot draw statistically significant conclusions from a small group of patients without a control group, the results suggest that some respondents, at least in part, to treatment with THC in terms of decreased growth rate tumor, as it was confirmed by image analysis and biomarkers. These results are encouraging and substantially reinforce the interest in the potential use of cannabinoids in the treatment of cancer.
However, we must also highlight the need for further research to optimize the use of cannabinoids in terms of patient selection, combination with other anti-tumor agents and use of other routes of administration.
Conclusion: There are still many unanswered questions about the potential of cannabinoids as anticancer drugs use, and it is necessary and desirable for comprehensive clinical studies carried out to determine how you can use cannabinoids other than for its palliative effects, for the treatment of cancer patients.