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Cannabis in Cancer Care

Presented by Professor Donald Abrams
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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 this presentation, Professor Donald Abrams, one of the world’s leading integrative oncology experts, explores the evidence for the use of medicinal cannabis in 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:

  • Argue the evidence base for the use of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).
  • Debate the evidence base for the use of medicinal cannabis in the treatment of poor appetite and weight loss associated with cancer.
  • Debate the evidence base for the use of medicinal cannabis in the pain associated with cancer and its treatment.
  • Explain the anti-cancer mechanisms of action associated with cannabis.
  • Summarise the level of science evidence for the use of cannabis to treat glioblastoma multiforme and other types of tumours.

Professor Donald Abrams

Donald I. Abrams, MD. is a Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. He has an Integrative Oncology consultation practice at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.
He received an A.B. in Molecular Biology from Brown University in 1972 and graduated from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1977. After completing an Internal Medicine residency at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Francisco, he became a fellow in Hematology/Oncology at the Cancer Research Institute of the University of California, San Francisco in 1980. He was one the original clinician/investigators to recognize and define many early AIDS-related conditions at San Francisco General Hospital where he also served as chief of Hematology-Oncology for 14 years.
He has long been interested in clinical trials of complementary and alternative medicine interventions for HIV/AIDS and cancer, including evaluations of medicinal cannabis. In 1997 he received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to conduct a clinical trial on the short-term safety of cannabinoids in HIV infection. Subsequently he was granted funds by the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research to continue studies of the effectiveness of cannabis in a number of clinical conditions. He completed a placebo-controlled study of smoked cannabis in patients with painful HIV-related peripheral neuropathy as well as a study evaluating vaporization as a smokeless delivery system for medicinal cannabis. He conducted a NIDA-funded trial investigating the pharmacokinetic interaction between vaporized cannabis and opioid analgesics in patients with chronic pain.
His last study was an NIH-funded trial evaluating vaporized cannabis in patients with sickle cell disease. He co-authored the chapter on “Cannabinoids and Cancer” in the Oxford University Press Integrative Oncology text that he co-edited with Andrew Weil. He co-edits the NCI PDQ CAM Cannabinoids and Cancer website. He was a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s committee that published The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research in January 2017.
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