Many breast cancer patients are using marijuana and not telling their doctors

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Many breast cancer patients use cannabis to ease the symptoms of the disease and its treatments, but few tell their doctors, a new survey finds.

In an online anonymous survey of more than 600 adults with a breast cancer diagnosis, 42 percent reported using some form of cannabis for relief of symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, pain, insomnia, anxiety and stress, according to the report published Tuesday in Cancer.

“They are not using it to get high, but to manage the side effects of breast cancer or the treatments for breast cancer,” said the study’s author, Dr. Marisa Weiss, founder and chief medical officer of Breastcancer.org and an oncologist at the Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. “It can be a pretty rough ride. People are struggling to keep going and to have a reasonable quality of life.”

To take a closer look at breast cancer patients’ use of cannabis, Weiss and her colleagues sent a 47-question survey to 612 adults — 605 were women and five were men. The other two preferred not to answer the question about gender. All were recruited via Breastcancer.org and Healthline.com’s community.

While 39 percent said they had mentioned cannabis to their doctors, just 4 percent of the 306 participants who said they wanted more information had turned to their physicians for information on the drug. Most sought information from other sources, including websites or cannabis dispensary staff. Eighteen percent turned to a family member or friend. Most said they were unsatisfied with the information they received. []

Source: Many breast cancer patients are using marijuana and not telling their doctors

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