The National Cancer Institute Cannabis, Cannabinoids and Cancer Research Symposium
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The National Cancer Institute Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Cancer Research Symposium will take place virtually on December 15-18, 2020. Anyone wishing to attend should visit the meeting website to register.
In 2018, 43.5 million people aged 12 years or older in the United States had used cannabis (marijuana) in the past year. The legal landscape of medical and recreational cannabis use is rapidly evolving, with wide variation in state policies. The available delivery methods of cannabis have also undergone dramatic changes and include edibles, oils, tinctures, topicals, and inhaled forms. Vaping tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, has been implicated in the cause of severe respiratory illness.
Consequently, state-based policy changes are taking place at a time when research on the potential beneficial or adverse health effects of cannabis use and the impact on use among cancer patients across a variety of geographic settings remains limited. For example, many of the carcinogens contained in tobacco smoke are also present in cannabis smoke. Yet the current evidence does not suggest that cannabis is associated with an increased risk of tobacco-related cancers and the few published studies are fraught with inconsistencies and methodological challenges, including the co-use of tobacco and other substances. There is also evidence that cannabis and its constituents may inhibit the growth of some tumors and ameliorate various cancer-related symptoms and cancer treatment-related side effects.
Understanding the scientific landscape regarding the risk/benefit dichotomy is essential. Recent survey evidence suggests that a quarter of cancer patients have used cannabis, coupled with the suggestion that a majority of U.S. medical oncologists engage in discussions about cannabis use with patients. Common conditions for which it has been used among cancer patients include anorexia, nausea, and pain, with some evidence of positive effect. While almost half recommend it clinically, few clinicians feel sufficiently informed to make recommendations to their patients regarding the use of cannabis.
This symposium will highlight the state of the science in cannabis, its chemical constituents (e.g. cannabinoids), and cancer research, including cancer epidemiology, use in cancer patients, cancer biology and prevention, pre-clinical and clinical cancer symptom and treatment side-effect management, as well as the use of cannabis and cannabinoids as cancer therapeutics. The symposium will also address current barriers to research and strategies to navigate these hurdles to ensure feasibility of rigorous studies designed to address gaps in knowledge as well as potential research opportunities in the area of research related to cannabis and cancer.
National Cancer Institute
- Samantha Ammons, M.P.H., Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program (EGRP), Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS)
- Alexis Bakos, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N. , Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention (DCP)
- Gary L. Ellison, Ph.D., M.P.H., EGRP, DCCPS
- Andrew N. Freedman, Ph.D., EGRP, DCCPS
- Rachel Grana Mayne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Behavioral Research Program, DCCPS
- Ron Johnson, Ph.D., DNA and Chromosome Aberrations Branch, Division of Cancer Biology
- Sharon Ross, Ph.D., M.P.H., Nutritional Science Research Group, DCP
- Alejandro Salicrup, Ph.D., Public Health, Networks, and Research Branch, Center for Global Health and Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD)
- Jeffrey White, M.D., Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, DCTD