Survey: Canadian Oncologists “Lack Sufficient Knowledge” Regarding Cannabis and Cancer Therapy

Calgary, Canada: Oncology health care providers possess only limited knowledge about the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of cancer chemotherapy, according to survey data published in the journal Current Oncology.

Investigators affiliated with the University of Calgary surveyed 103 Canadian health care providers specializing in oncology. Most respondents said that they “lacked sufficient knowledge about cannabis and its utility as a medication in cancer treatment.” Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said that they possessed insufficient knowledge about cannabis to issue a medical marijuana recommendation to a patient.

Canadian law has permitted physicians to issue medical cannabis recommendations since 2001.

Authors concluded: “Although cannabis-based research in oncology is growing, information about the role of hcps [health care providers] and their perspectives about the use and prescription of cannabis in cancer care has been lacking. A sizeable gap in professional knowledge and formal training about cannabis among oncology hcps is evident, although hcps are willing to become more educated about the topic.”

The study’s conclusions are consistent with those of prior surveys of Canadian and US health care professionals – such as those here and here – finding that few respondents believe that they possess an adequate understanding of cannabis-related health issues.

Full text of the study, “Health care provider preferences for, and barriers to, cannabis use in cancer care,” appears in Current Oncology.