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Cannabis and Cancer (Part 2)

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 2 of a two part presentation, medicinal cannabis educator and research Professor Kylie O’Brien, delves into the scientific evidence that seeks to address the question of whether medicinal cannabis and some of its key constituents may have a role to play in the integrative management of cancer.

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:

  • Debate the scientific evidence that medicinal cannabis and key constituents THC and CBD have anti-cancer actions.

  • Discuss types and findings of preclinical studies supporting the contention that CBD and THC can address some of the signalling pathways involved in cancer.

  • Critically argue whether there is evidence of synergism between cannabinoids and western cancer drugs.

  • Debate the level of evidence in the scientific literature that medicinal cannabis and key cannabinoids may be efficacious in the treatment of several symptoms associated with cancer and its orthodox treatment including anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, cancer-related pain, oral mucositis and cachexia.

  • Discuss whether medicinal cannabis may have a role to play in palliative care

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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