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Cannabis and Cancer (Part 1)

Presented by Professor Kylie O'Brien, PhD.

About this module:

Cancer is rapidly becoming the number one cause of mortality in many countries. Increasingly people diagnosed with cancer are turning to medicinal cannabis to treat symptoms/signs as well as treat the pathophysiology. In Part 1 of a two part presentation, medicinal cannabis educator and research Professor Kylie O’Brien, discusses the pathogenesis of cancer and how the endocannabinoid system is involved.

This presentation assumes an understanding of the endocannabinoid system and how CBD and THC work. This presentation is pitched at the level of healthcare practitioners and those with a background in biomedical sciences.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this module, learners will be able to:

  • Describe common symptoms and signs associated with cancer and its orthodox treatment that might be able to be addressed using medicinal cannabis.

  • Describe the key hallmarks of cancer.

  • Drawing on knowledge of the role of the endocannabinoid system in homeostasis, discuss how dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system may be relevant to the various symptoms and signs associated with cancer.

  • Explain how endocannabinoid system dysfunction is involved in the pathogenesis of cancer.


Professor Kylie O'Brien, PhD

Professor Kylie O’Brien PhD is an Adjunct Professor at Torrens University. She has a strong academic career in the fields of Chinese medicine, integrative medicine, and, since 2018, in medicinal cannabis. She has worked for the Victorian Department of Human Services, and held senior leadership roles in the university and private education sector. An internationally recognised expert in Chinese medicine and integrative medicine, she has published extensively, including a book on integrative oncology (US: Springer, 2017). Kylie’s second book, with co-author Dr Philip Blair, O’Brien K, Blair P, Medicinal Cannabis and CBD in Mental Healthcare, Springer, 2021 has now been published (Springer). She is a member of the Australian government’s Tertiary Education and Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) Expert Panel and a previous member of the TGA Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines.

Kylie has been leading doctor education on medicinal cannabis in Australia since 2018. Her courses were the first to receive RACGP Category 1 CPD accreditation. She also set up the pathway via the National Institute of Integrative Medicine Ethics Committee for doctors to apply to become authorised prescribers of medicinal cannabis under the TGA’s Authorised Prescriber Scheme.
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