A study published this week (Oncogene Journal) found that mice with pancreatic cancer survive nearly three times longer if medical cannabis was added to their chemotherapy treatment.
What is cannabis and is it legal?
The Cannabis plant has different components, it contains active ingredients called cannabinoids. One of these components is cannabidiol (CBD) which is the compound that does not make people feel ‘high’, unlike the component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which has psychoactive properties.
There has been research that shows that this part of the plant has some medical benefits, one of which is helping to stop cell growth in certain types of cancer.
The home secretary has already allowed specialist doctors in the UK to legally prescribe cannabis products and the use of cannabis for medical treatments has been approved to be used in the NHS by the end of this year.
About the study
The new study, looked at the impact of CBD on mice with the disease, receiving the common chemotherapy drug Gemcitabine.
The mice treated with this combination of drugs had a median average survival of 56 days, compared to 20 days for those left untreated, while mice receiving chemotherapy alone lived for a median 23.5 days.
The research, funded by Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, is in the very early stages and still needs to be tested in humans which is likely to take some time. However, lead researcher of the study, Professor Marco Falasca from Queen Mary University in London, says:
“Cannabidiol is already approved for use in clinics, which means we can quickly go on to test this in human clinical trials. If we can reproduce these affects in humans, cannabidiol could be in use in cancer clinics almost immediately.”
Lu Constable, Marketing and Communications Manager at Pancreatic Cancer Action says:
“Although this research is in it’s early stages, this is a really exciting and promising study. Hopefully, in the future clinical trials (testing on humans) will provide insight into whether using CBD in combination with chemotherapy will help improve survival rates for pancreatic cancer patients.
We are really looking forward to seeing how this research will progress and ultimately, help pancreatic cancer patients.”
Ceridwen shares her experience with CBD oil
Ceridwen Maddock-Jones, Pancreatic Cancer Action supporter and pancreatic cancer patient, has been using Cannabis oil, she says:
“I put the paste into capsules with coconut oil and CBD oil… I also take drops of CBD and THC oil under my tongue.
CBD is thought to stop the progression of cancer and THC kills cancer cells, so taking the two together will hopefully offer maximum benefit, while the small doses throughout the day keeps them in my system.”
About pancreatic cancer
Pancreatic cancer is the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer and is set to become one of the UKs top 4 cancer killers by 2026.
The 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is less than 7% in the UK, this is the worst survival rate of any 22 common cancers. This could partly be due to the fact that pancreatic cancer can be resilient to some chemotherapy.
Currently, there is no early detection test for pancreatic cancer and the only cure is surgery with chemotherapy. Surgery is only possible if it is found early enough. Click here to read our blog Is pancreatic cancer curable?
Pancreatic Cancer Action’s primary focus is to improve early diagnosis. We do this by raising awareness amongst the public, providing free resources to healthcare professionals and funding early diagnosis research.