Medical Cannabis and Cancer Related Pain

Cancer related pain is a comprehensive term used to describe the different types of pain associated with a cancer diagnosis. Not all patients diagnosed with cancer will experience pain. Pain may range in severity and come and go throughout treatment and recovery.

For cancer patients who do experience prolonged pain, finding strategies to help mitigate this symptom can be difficult. In some cases, patients may use medical cannabis for the treatment of cancer-related pain.

MyAccess Clinics’ team of consultants are passionate about delivering supportive care for patients suffering from a number of different conditions, including cancer related pain.

Cancer related pain — an overview

No two patients diagnosed with cancer will have the same experience. A number of factors will influence a patient’s symptoms, including the origins of your pain, the stage of disease, the treatment you are receiving, and any other health conditions you have.

Cancer related pain can originate from any of the following causes:

  • Primary pain: a tumour pressing on bones, nerves, organs, or other body parts can cause pain.
  • Treatment: treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy, may cause irritation and other side effects.
  • Recovery: cancer patients often report long-term symptoms related to their condition and the treatment they have received. For example, a patient with an amputated limb can experience phantom pain in the affected area.

Cancer related pain can therefore be acute or chronic in nature. Acute pain is short-term and generally has a direct cause — a tumour that is later removed, for example. Chronic pain, on the other hand, is long-term (generally lasting longer than six months) and may not have a direct cause. Chronic pain can range in severity and may not be present all the time. However, it tends to have a significant impact on physical and emotional wellbeing.

Medical cannabis and pain

Cannabis has been used for thousands of years by physicians to manage physical and psychological symptoms. Its use was criminalised in most parts of the world during the 1900s. Recently, medical cannabis has been legalised in a number of countries for the treatment of a variety of different conditions.

In the United Kingdom, this change was made in 2018, when medical cannabis was rescheduled from schedule 1 to schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The United Kingdom joined many countries in making this change, including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Poland, Sri Lanka, and countless others.

How can medical cannabis help patients experiencing pain? Well, medical cannabis contains a number of active ingredients, including two main cannabinoids — tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, a system of the body involved in a number of essential functions, including appetite, temperature control, and pain modulation.

The endocannabinoid system is widespread and made up of a number of different components, including two G protein-coupled receptors, cannabinoid receptor 1 — CB1 — and cannabinoid receptor 2 — CB2. These receptors are found in high concentrations throughout the brain and the rest of the body. Interaction with CB1 and CB2 receptors may help relieve symptoms of chronic pain by releasing the release of a neurotransmitter known as glutamate.

If you would like to find out more about how medical cannabis may benefit you, call MyAccess Clinics

Medical cannabis eligibility

Cannabis-based products for medical use, or CBPMs, are highly regulated. Obtaining a prescription requires you to meet certain eligibility requirements and cannot be arranged by every doctor. A clinician must be listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council to prescribe medical cannabis for cancer treatment, or medical cannabis for any other purpose.

In addition, patients must meet other eligibility requirements, including having tried at least two other therapies that have not helped manage their symptoms of cancer related pain.

If you believe you meet these eligibility requirements or wish to make an appointment with a medical cannabis specialist to discuss medical cannabis for cancer treatment, contact the experienced team at MyAccess Clinics today. Our trained specialists have helped many patients manage chronic pain associated with cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, and pride ourselves on delivering supportive care.