Medical Marijuana and Cancer

Dr. Donald Tashkin, Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of the Pulmonary Function Laboratory at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has been studying the effects of marijuana smoke since the 1970’s. He was the lead investigator on the initial studies that identified the toxic components in marijuana smoke. He also reported the the studies that showed that there is damage from the smoke to the cells that line the upper airways of the lungs. His findings have also found that marijuana smokers are more likely than non-smokers to have cough, sputum production, and wheezing.

Two Types of Lung Cancer:

There are two types of lung cancer:

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC): is responsible for 85-90% of all lung cancers and has three different subtypes:

1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma: found in the middle of the lungs, this type of cancer is linked to smoking (25-30%)

2. Adenocarcinoma: found on the outer part of the lung, people with this particular cancer typically have a better prognosis (40%)

3. Large Cell (undifferentiated) Carcinoma: grows and spreads rapidly, and can be found in any part of the lung – making it hard to treat (10-15%)

Small Cell Lung Cancer: begins in the center of the chest and is responsible for 10-15% of all lung cancers. Made up of small cancer cells that multiply rapidly and can form large tumors as well as spread to other organs (including the bones, brains and liver as well as the lymph nodes). This type of lung cancer is found mostly in smokers, it is very rare that a non-smoker would have small cell lung cancer. Because small cell lung cancer spreads quickly, if surgery is an option it is often matched with other treatments to kill the parts of the disease that has spread.

Rare forms of Lung Cancer:

(responsible for less than 5% of all lung cancers)

§ Carcinoid tumors

§ Adenoid cystic carcinomas

§ Hamartomas

§ Lymphomas

§ Sarcomas

Lung cancer is a cancer that starts in the lungs. Cancer that begins in another organ and spreads to the lungs is considered the original type of cancer (for instance: kidney cancer that spreads to the lung is kidney cancer).

Lung Cancer Statistics:

§ It is estimated there will be over two hundred and nineteen thousand new cases of lung cancer in 2009

§ It is also estimated that there will be over 150,000 deaths from lung cancer

§ More people die of lung cancer than colon, breast and prostate cancer combined

§ The risk for smokers is higher than in non-smokers

§ The average lifetime risk that a man will get lung cancer is one in thirteen, a woman is one in sixteen

Common Symptoms of Lung Cancer Include:

*this is not a complete list of symptoms; if you do have any of the symptoms on this list, you should contact your doctor*

§ Cough that does not go away

§ Chest pain that worsens when one takes a deep breath, coughs or laughs

§ Hoarseness

§ Weight loss

§ Loss of appetite

§ Bloody spit

§ Shortness of breath

§ Pneumonia or bronchitis that keeps coming back

§ Wheezing

Common Symptoms (if the cancer has spread) Include:

§ Bone pain

§ Numbness of arms or legs

§ Headache

§ Dizziness

§ Seizure

§ Jaundice

§ Lumps near the surface of your body

Smoking is the most common risk factor related to lung cancer, with nine out of ten cases being caused by smoking. Smoking, in this case, includes cigarettes, pipes and cigars. A person exposed to secondhand smoke has a twenty to thirty percent increase in their chances of developing lung cancer in the future. Smoking, however, is not the only risk factor of lung cancer…

Other Risk Factors Include:

§ Marijuana

§ DNA and Gene changes

§ Air Pollution

§ History of lung cancer (whether it is personal or a family member)

§ Arsenic

§ Diets or vitamins

§ Asbestos

§ Radon

§ Radiation to the chest

The American Cancer Society provides a list of questions to ask your doctor if you have been diagnosed with lung cancer.

TREATMENTS

There are various types of treatments one could undergo, depending on the type of lung cancer they have:

Surgery:

(for Small Cell Lung Cancer and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer)

§ 1 in 20 cases of small cell lung cancer can be treated entirely by surgery (the majority of cases, however, involve additional treatment)

§ Tests are done prior to ensure enough lung tissue will remain after surgery

§ Lymph nodes are removed for to check for spreading

§ Operations require a hospital stay of about a week

Operations:

1. pneumonectomy: an operation in which the entire lung is removed

2. lobectomy: only a part of the lung is removed

3. segmentectomy or wedge resection: part of a section of the lung is removed

4. Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery:

Less invasive, this surgery is used during the early stages of lung cancers (for 3-4 centimeter tumors) involves a thin video camera to be placed in a tiny hole in the chest, to allow the surgeon to see the chest cavity. Other holes (usually two) are created, and large instruments pull the tumor through these holes. The advantages include less pain and a shorter hospital stay.

Side Effects of Surgery:

§ Excessive bleeding

§ Infections

§ Pneumonia

§ Limited activity

Radiation Therapy:

Radiation Therapy for Small Cell Lung Cancer

Given five days a week, for a few weeks, radiation therapy uses energy rays to kill cancer cells, and usually coincides with chemotherapy (or after chemotherapy to kill any cancer cells that might remain). This therapy is painless and the treatment is brief (set-up time is commonly longer than the actual procedure)

Three Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT)

This type of radiation therapy uses computer programs to locate the tumor, thus aiming the radiation beams at the tumor, from different places, making it less likely to damage healthy tissue.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

This type of radiation therapy involves a machine, which moves around the patient to deliver radiation to the tumor from different angles at different intensities. This type of therapy is typically used when tumors are located near sensitive body parts, like the spinal cord.

Radiation Therapy for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

There are two types of radiation therapy for non-Small Cell Lung Cancer:

1. External Beam Radiation Therapy:

Uses radiation from outside of the body and focuses it on the cancer. This radiation is commonly used on the primary lung cancer or when it spreads to the organs. Types of external beam radiation include:

Three Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT)

This type of radiation therapy uses computer programs to locate the tumor, thus aiming the radiation beams at the tumor, from different places, making it less likely to damage healthy tissue.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

This type of radiation therapy involves a machine, which moves around the patient to deliver radiation to the tumor from different angles at different intensities. This type of therapy is typically used when tumors are located near sensitive body parts, like the spinal cord.

Stereotactic Radiation Therapy

Treats early stages of lung cancer and is focused on giving large doses of radiation one or two days a week. The person is put in a body frame, designed for them, to help lead to successful radiation.

2. Brachytherapy (Internal Radiation Therapy):

Involves placing a small dose of radioactive material in the cancer, to shrink the tumors and relieve symptoms. It could also be part of a larger treatment to cure the cancer.

Side Effects of Radiation Therapy:

§ Skin problems (like a sunburn, where the radiation enters the body)

§ Nausea and vomiting

§ Fatigue

§ If the radiation therapy happened in the chest: trouble breathing or swallowing

§ If the radiation therapy happened in the brain: headaches, memory loss, trouble thinking, loss of sex drive

Chemotherapy:

(for Small Cell Lung Cancer and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer)

Anti-cancer drugs (like: cisplatin, etoposide, carboplatin and irinotecan; the choice of drugs depends on the growth of the cancer) are injected or swallowed and enter the bloodstream, which makes this the preferred treatment when the cancer has spread.

Chemotherapy:

§ Is the most common treatment for Small Cell Lung Cancer

§ Could be the main treatment, or an addition to another treatment

§ Is given in cycles so the body has time to recuperate

Side Effects of Chemotherapy:

§ Hair loss

§ Mouth sores

§ Loss of appetite

§ Nausea and vomiting

§ Increased chance of infections

§ Easy bruising and bleeding

§ Fatigue or weakness

§ Sensitivity to cold or heat

§ Pain, burning or tingling sensations

Other Treatments for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer:

Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA)

§ For small lung tumors located at the outer lung

§ Heats the tumor and uses an electric current to destroy the cancer cells

§ An outpatient procedure, using medicine or local anesthesia

§ Can cause partial collapse of, or bleeding into the lung

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

§ Used to treat cancers where surgery would not work (i.e.: near airways)

§ A light-activated drug, called Photofrin, is injected and collects cancer cells

§ A light at the end of a bronchoscope is passed down, causing the cells to die

§ The cells will be removed a few days later

§ Can cause sensitivity to the light and skin reactions

The following drugs are newer treatments, used on non-small cell lung cancer patients either along with chemotherapy or when chemotherapy has stopped working.

Bevacizumab: infused into the vein every two to three weeks, this drug targets the proteins that help create new blood vessels (which nourish tumors). Side Effects Include bleeding, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, risk of blood clots and a delay in wound healing.

Erlotinib (Tarceva): is a pill taken daily, that blocks the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR – which signals cells to grow and divide) and helps to keep lung tumors under control. It is commonly used after chemotherapy has stopped working. Side Effects Include an acne-like rash on the face and chest, diarrhea, loss of appetite and fatigue.

Cetuximab (Erbitux): is given once a week to patients with advanced lung cancer, to target EGFR, it is often added to standard chemotherapy. Side Effects Include an acne-like rash, headache, fatigue, fever and diarrhea. Another rare side effect is an allergic reaction to the drug during the first infusion (there is medicine one can take prior to treatment to help prevent it).

OTHER METHODS

(for both Small Cell Lung Cancer and Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer)

While the decision is ultimately yours, you should always discuss these methods with your doctor. Your doctor can help you find methods for your particular case, tell you what to avoid and provide support.

Clinical Trials:

Clinical trials are controlled research which studies those who volunteer for them in an attempt to use new treatments or procedures. These trials are not right for everyone, yet they help doctor's learn more about newer cancer treatments. There are requirements that a person must meet in order to be a part of the trial.

To Find a Clinical Trial:

§ Ask your doctor about hospitals or clinics performing trials

§ Call (800)-303-5691 or go online to clinicaltrials.cancer.org

§ Call (800)-422-6237 or go online to http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials

For more information on clinical trials, click here

Complementary Methods:

Refer to methods that one can practice along with medical care. They are not cures for cancer; they simply help you feel better, as a way to get rid of stress, relieve pain or nausea. These include: aromatherapy, massage therapy, meditation or yoga. Some therapies have been tested and found to help, while others have been found to be harmful therefore, it is always important to discuss these methods with your doctor.

Alternative Treatments:

Refer to methods that are used instead of regular medical treatments. While some work, most alternative treatments have been found to be harmful and ineffective, and by using them the patient holds off on their treatment, allowing the cancer time to grow. There are certain ways to spot a bad treatment.

If The Treatment:

1. promises to cure all cancers (or the majority of them)

2. is only given by certain people

3. requires that you not use other, standard medical treatments

4. requires the patient travelling to another country

5. is given by professionals who attack the medical community

AFTER TREATMENT

§ Keep follow-up appointments (usually every 2 to 3 months for the first year) so doctors can examine you, check for symptoms of side effects and recurrence, as well as giving you the opportunity to tell the doctor how you are.

§ You might want to consider making lifestyle changes, most notably with your diet and exercise, as well as joining a support group to help your emotional health, after going through a difficult time.

CONCLUSION

Because the stage of lung cancer the patient has affects the treatments listed above, The American Cancer Society provides a helpful list which summarizes which treatments are most effective at which stage, whether you are diagnosed with small cell lung cancer or

6739 - Marijuana garden by loupiote (Old Skool)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s