Cancer Patients Asking Doctors About Marijuana Still Get Little Help

Cancer Patients Asking Doctors About Marijuana Still Get Little Help

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Kate Murphy felt frustrated by what she sees as a lack of guidance from doctors on how to use medical marijuana to mitigate the impact of side effects related to her cancer treatment . (Jesse Costa/WBUR) Even three queasy pregnancies didn’t prepare Kate Murphy for the nonstop nausea that often comes with chemotherapy. In the early months of 2016, the Lexington mother tried everything the doctors and nurses suggested. "But for the most part I felt nauseous 24/7," she said. Murphy, then 49 and fighting breast cancer, dropped 15 pounds from her already slim frame in just two months. Then, she remembered what a fellow cancer patient had advised while she was waiting for her first dose of chemo: "Make sure you get some medical marijuana." Scientific research, mostly in animals, supports the idea that cannabis can effectively treat the nausea of cancer therapy, in addition to some types of cancer-related pain, according to the National Cancer Institute’s cannabis information page . And roughly a quarter of cancer patients use cannabis in Washington state, where both medical and recreational marijuana is legal, a study from last September found. But here in Massachusetts, although medical marijuana has been legal for six years, it’s still a challenge for cancer patients to get a state-issued medical marijuana ID card, or then figure out what kind of cannabis to use. "I was flabbergasted that there was no real resource A, B and C, and here’s how you do it,’ " Murphy said. "What I liken it to is, ‘you need chemo, now go figure it out.’" Like most patients, Murphy’s first step was to ask her oncologist. Murphy said she loved her doctor and care team at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, but they had no advice to offer on medical marijuana. "They […]

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