Cancer is a disease that has affected almost everyone in one manner or another. Cancer can be defined as a disease of the cells. Specifically, cancer is when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled manner. These cells cause damage to surrounding tissues and can spread to other parts of the body, resulting in more damage.
The Cancer Landscape
There are over 100 various types of cancer that are commonly named after the organs or tissues in which cancer first formed. Some of the most common forms of cancer that you may have heard of include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, melanoma, lymphoma, and leukemia. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, in 2018 there were an estimated 18 million cancer cases globally. According to the Australian Cancer Council, cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia, with more than 150,000 new cases diagnosed in 2020 alone. That same year, just under 50,000 individuals in Australia lost their lives to cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Cancer
The specific signs and symptoms of cancer will vary drastically depending on the area of the body affected. In general, however, there are several common signs and symptoms of cancer that everyone should be aware of. According to Cancer Institute NSW, five of the most common signs and symptoms of cancer include the following:
- • Unusual Lumps or Swelling
- • Fever
- • Unexplained Aches and Pains
- • Unexplained Weight Loss
- • Severe Fatigue or Extreme Tiredness
When Should You Seek Help for Cancer Symptoms?
Health Direct suggests that if you notice any changes in suspected cancer symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. The success of treating cancer highly depends on how early it is detected. If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms for more than two weeks or notice a sudden change in the severity of any symptoms, it is also recommended that you speak with your doctor right away.
How Is Cancer Diagnosed?
When it comes to diagnosing cancer, it can sometimes take time and several different tests to receive an accurate diagnosis. Because cancer can grow slowly, sometimes it can be present for months or years before causing any symptoms. Various tests can be utilized to diagnose cancer, depending on your specific symptoms and their location on your body. These tests include blood tests, MRI scans, ultrasounds, X-rays, and CT scans. If these tests reveal anything of concern, your doctor will likely take a small sample of the affected tissue using a procedure known as a biopsy to examine it further in a laboratory. The biopsy helps doctors learn more about the type of cancer and how aggressive it is within the body.
The Endocannabinoid System & Cancer
Plant therapies work with the body’s endocannabinoid system to assist with many functions within our anatomy. According to the University of Newcastle, Australia, “Laboratory tests conducted at the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute have shown that a modified form of medicinal cannabis can kill or inhibit cancer cells without impacting normal cells, revealing its potential as a treatment rather than simply a relief medication.”
There have also been numerous research studies conducted around the globe that have proven cannabis’ efficacy in relieving many of the common signs and symptoms associated with cancer and cannabis is effective at relieving symptoms without the side effects of traditional treatment. In 2019, researchers at Amity University in India conducted a detailed scientific review of the literature surrounding the effects of cannabinoids on various cancer types and discovered the following.
Plant compounds such as THC and CBD can “exert potent [anti-growth] activity and activate various apoptotic mechanisms eventually leading to cell death.” This was found in studies surrounding glioma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Another study in their review found that when cancer cells were treated with synthetic versions of endocannabinoids, they activated receptors that killed cancer cells.
Additionally, a clinical trial researching the utilization of cannabinoid therapies in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme showed that those treated with cannabinoid therapies had a higher one-year survival rate of 83%, which is much greater than the placebo group at 53%.
Traditional Treatments for Cancer
Most commonly, cancer is fought with one or a combination of the following treatments:
- • Chemotherapy
- • Radiotherapy
- • Immunotherapy
- • Hormone Therapy
- • Surgery to Remove Cancerous Tissue
- • Stem Cell Transplants
In addition to the therapy utilised in hopes of killing the cancerous cells and tissues, many cancer patients are also prescribed a plethora of other medications to address the side effects and symptoms of cancer and the treatments employed to fight it. These often include antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to help with the mental health issues one may experience after a cancer diagnosis and while undergoing treatment, in addition to pain medications, nausea medications, and other types of medication.
Plant Therapies for Cancer – Clinical Trial Synopsis
The utilisation of plant therapies such as cannabis in the treatment of cancer and its various symptoms and side effects has been widely documented in anecdotal studies of success and scientific research for many years. The majority of research available today offers much hope for plant therapies in the treatment of various cancers. Currently, researchers at the University of Newcastle are recruiting patients for an interventional open-label study on the use of medicinal cannabis in advanced cancer patients. The eligibility requirements for this study include the following.
- • 18 years or older
- • A confirmed advanced cancer diagnosis
- • A predicted life expectancy of 6 to 12 months at the time of consent
- • Persistent symptoms of nausea, anorexia, or refractory pain that have not been responsive to standard treatments
- • Participants must be willing and able to comply with all requirements set forth by the study agreement
- • Any participants capable of childbearing must use adequate contraception
To learn more about the study and to register for eligibility, check out the official details in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry here.
To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.