The perceptions and beliefs of cannabis use among Canadian genitourinary cancer patients

The legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada in 2018 has led to many patients being curious about the benefits of taking cannabis in conjunction with their cancer treatment. We investigated the perceptions among genitourinary cancer (GUC) patients regarding cannabis use as part of their care plans.

METHODS: A survey was created to explore current cannabis use behaviors, reasons for cannabis use, and the beliefs of cannabis usefulness towards cancer-related care, including cancer treatment, among GUC patients. The survey was distributed across Canada online via RedCAP through social media platforms, email, and patient advocacy groups. The survey was active from August to December 2020.

RESULTS: Of eighty-five responses, fifty-two met inclusion for analysis. Participants included 11 bladder, 26 kidney, and 15 prostate cancer patients. Many (48.1%) participants used cannabis daily and 75% had been using it for more than one year. Cannabis was consumed through oil-based products, edibles, and smoking. The most common reasons for using cannabis were cancer-related anxiety, to prevent cancer progression, cancer-related pain, recreational use, and other non-cancer-related illness or symptoms. Participants believed cannabis improved their sleep (70.2%), anxiety (65.9%), and overall mood (72.3%). Most participants were either unsure (38.3%) or neutral (31.9%) in the belief that cannabis might decrease their cancer progression.

CONCLUSIONS: GUC patients use cannabis for a variety of cancer- and non-cancer-related symptoms. Many patients believe cannabis has benefited their cancer-related symptoms. These findings highlight the importance of healthcare providers remaining familiar with current evidence on cannabis to support patient conversations about cannabis use.

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