Few patients with cancer learned about using cannabidiol (CBD) to mitigate negative symptoms from their healthcare providers and a pattern of widespread lack of knowledge about CBD was observed, according to survey results published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.
More than half of patients undergoing treatment for cancer experienced uncontrolled negative symptoms. A recent study found that 52% to 65% of patients used CBD to mitigate these symptoms. Clinicians at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center developed a survey to assess patient knowledge about CBD and how widespread its use was. The questionnaire was administered to 100 patients who were undergoing or had completed treatment for cancer.
Participants were 63% women, aged 25 to 75 years and older, and 77% were White. Most respondents (69%) had never used CBD products.
Of the 31 users or former users of CBD, 42% did not disclose this fact to their clinician and only 26% had CBD use documented in their medical records.
The motivation to use CBD included pain (84%), anxiety (35%), and sleep (29%). CBD was used orally (71%) or topically (39%). Side effects were reported by 3 survey respondents.
Patients reported sourcing information about CBD from family or friends (47%), social media (36%), or television programs (31%). Only 13% learned about it from a healthcare professional.
Reasons for use were belief that CBD could reduce pain (63 patients), anxiety (54 patients), and nausea (45 patients).
Regarding risk, 17% of respondents thought there was low or no risks and 45% were unsure.
These findings may not be generalizable, as this clinic often manages complex patient cases.
These data indicated that although most patients were familiar with CBD, few were educated about possible benefits or side effects by their healthcare providers and a minority had tried using CBD.
Butler TW, Hande K, Ryan M, et al. Cannabidiol: knowledge, beliefs, and experiences of patients with cancer. Clin J Oncol Nurs. Published online August 2021.