Medical marijuana may effectively treat symptoms associated with cancer and cancer therapies, including: pain, nausea, fatigue, and lack of appetite.

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Cancer is a group of diseases in which there is uncontrolled cell growth and division that causes interference with the natural functions of the body. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetime.

Cancer is a genetic disease that can have a strong pattern of inheritance.  There are currently over 100 known forms of cancer. Some of the most prevalent categories include:

  • Carcinoma

  • Leukemia

  • Lymphoma

  • Melanoma

  • Multiple myeloma

  • Sarcoma

Cancer treatment often involves a combination of therapies, including: surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, stem cell transplants, and precision medicine.


Early cancer symptoms vary and may include:

  • Abdominal pain

  • Appetite changes and/or difficulty eating

  • Changes in bowel or urination habits

  • Fatigue

  • Hoarseness or a cough that does not go away

  • Night sweats

  • Slow healing

  • Skin changes (such as a new mole or change in an existing mole, a thickening or lump on or under the skin, or a change in skin texture)

  • Unusual bleeding or discharge

Traditional cancer medications and therapies may also result in a number of debilitating side effects, including:

  • Bleeding and bruising

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Memory or concentration problems

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Pain and/or nerve problems

  • Trouble sleeping


According to a recent survey of over 900 cancer patients, less than 15% received information about medical marijuana from their physician or nurse – despite acknowledgement from the National Cancer Institute that cannabis treats a wide variety of disease symptoms and “has been shown to kill cancer cells.”

Specifically, medical marijuana has demonstrated efficacy in treating the following cancer symptoms and therapy side effects:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Pain and/or nerve damage (neuropathy)

In addition, research suggests cannabis may exert anti-cancer effects by causing cell death, modulating cell-signaling pathways, and inhibiting tumor invasion. For instance, a 2011 study of cannabidiol (CBD) found that CBD kills breast cancer cells by inducing endoplasmic reticulum stress and inhibiting cell-signaling. Likewise, colon cancer studies show that CBD has a cancer-protective effect and reduces cell proliferation.

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