Medical marijuana for cancer.CA Cancer J Clin 2015; 65(2):109-22CC
Answer questions and earn CME/CNE Marijuana has been used for centuries, and interest in its medicinal properties has been increasing in recent years. Investigations into these medicinal properties has led to the development of cannabinoid pharmaceuticals such as dronabinol, nabilone, and nabiximols. Dronabinol is best studied in the treatment of nausea secondary to cancer chemotherapy and anorexia associated with weight loss in patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for those indications. Nabilone has been best studied for the treatment of nausea secondary to cancer chemotherapy. There are also limited studies of these drugs for other conditions. Nabiximols is only available in the United States through clinical trials, but is used in Canada and the United Kingdom for the treatment of spasticity secondary to multiple sclerosis and pain. Studies of marijuana have concentrated on nausea, appetite, and pain. This article will review the literature regarding the medical use of marijuana and these cannabinoid pharmaceuticals (with emphasis on indications relevant to oncology), as well as available information regarding adverse effects of marijuana use.