Immunotherapy and Cannabis as Treatment Together

Updated on February 29, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Many illnesses, including forms of cancer, have been shown to be able to be treated with medical marijuana. Studies done all over the world have revealed that cannabis can not only relieve some of the harrowing symptoms of cancer treatments but it stops the spread of cancerous cells in the body. The benefits of the medicinal properties of cannabis have led to an increase in the use of immunotherapy and cannabis as treatment together. 

A retrospective observational study was published in The Annals of Oncology, a peer-reviewed medical journal of oncology in which they examined the immunomodulatory effects of immunotherapy and cannabis treatment in 140 patients who suffered from advanced melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, and renal clear cell carcinoma. They tested for a possible interaction between cannabis as a treatment with patients treated with nivolumab (an immunotherapy drug prescribed for cancer treatment).

Surprisingly, the group that was given nivolumab alone had a better response rate than that of the nivolumab-cannabis group. Given this information, cannabis users should proceed with caution when beginning immunotherapy if they plan to utilize medicinal marijuana as well.  Additional studies are necessary to further understand this peculiarity, which will lead to the continuation of helping families who seek education and new treatment options, guiding many patients to a better quality of life. 

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