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The most common drug in cancer patients in Israel: medical cannabis

A survey of the oncologists who treat cancer on medical cannabis found that most believe it is effective and nearly half think it is safer than opiates. Only a third of them support legalization, compared with 54% of pain doctors who support it.

A survey conducted at Ichilov Hospital and published in the prestigious Lancet scientific journal found that cannabis is the most common drug among cancer patients in Israel.

According to the results of the survey, 90% of oncologists in Israel find cannabis effective in treating cancer patients and 45% of oncologists even think cannabis treatment is safer than opiate therapy.

A third of the oncologists were also found to be legalizing cannabis. However, most of them note that they have not received sufficient training about cannabis as a medical treatment and lack sufficient knowledge.

These findings are quite similar to the findings From a previous survey Who last year also examined the position of pain doctors in Israel, who support most of them in the treatment of medical cannabis.

In a press release published by Ichilov Hospital, researchers from Ichilov Medical Center in Tel Aviv conducted a first-of-its-kind in-depth study of the attitudes of oncologists in Israel regarding the treatment of cannabis in cancer patients.

Cannabis is used by many cancer patients and is today the most widely used drug in cancer patients in Israel.

In the absence of scientific information on the effectiveness of cannabis treatment in oncology, a study was conducted to examine the accumulated experience and professional impression of oncologists in Israel, who are among the most experienced physicians in the use of medical cannabis.

About half of all active 250 oncologists in Israel participated in the survey, a rate considered particularly high in such studies.

The results of the survey found that 90% of oncologists in Israel prescribe medical cannabis for their patients and a similar number also find the treatment effective.

Moreover, while the Ministry of Health recommends using cannabis in cancer patients only against pain or nausea, oncologists have found it also useful for improving mood, appetite and weakness and fatigue.

As for the safety of the treatment, most doctors noted that the treatment was relatively safe and encountered only mild side effects as a result of the treatment.

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Interestingly, 45% of oncologists thought that cannabis treatment was safer than opiate therapy (similar to morphine given to pain from a cancerous source).

Contrary to accepted recommendations, more than half of them would recommend using cannabis as the first choice if they needed to treat a relative.

The lack of scientific information on cannabis was also very prominent in this survey. Almost all the doctors noted a significant lack of knowledge and training in the field.

Finally, about a third of Israeli oncologists noted that they support the legalization of cannabis.

Prof. Wolf, oncology director of the Ichilov Tel Aviv Medical Center, who co-led the study with Dr. Silvio Brill, director of the Ichilov Pain Institute, says: Against various symptoms of cancer, so their cumulative experience is of great significance. The survey in question constitutes the first 'expert opinion' of its kind regarding the treatment of medical cannabis in cancer. "

Indeed, the survey offers some interesting insights. "The fact that many of the oncologists find treatment effective for a wide range of complaints, not just pain or nausea, raises the question of where to treat cancer patients," Wolf said.

Prof. Wolf emphasizes that “However, given the limited knowledge in the field, careful use of cannabis, especially in view of the possibility of prolonged side effects and even addiction, should be more common in young patients. In any case, there is no doubt that this is a controversial issue, which involves a variety of unscientific and non-medical interests, and such that existing scientific knowledge is very deficient, and this is reflected in the variety of opinions and practices used by various doctors. "


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