Cancer Rep (Hoboken). 2021 Oct 21:e1551. doi: 10.1002/cnr2.1551. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Children with cancer are increasingly using cannabis therapeutically.
AIM: The purpose of this study was to determine the perspectives and practices of pediatric oncologists and palliative care physicians regarding the use of cannabis for medical purposes among children with cancer.
METHODS: A self-administered, voluntary, cross-sectional, deidentified online survey was sent to all pediatric oncologists and palliative care physicians in Canada between June and August 2020. Survey domains included education, knowledge, and concerns about cannabis, views on its effectiveness, and the importance of cannabis-related research. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
RESULTS: In total, 122/259 (47.1%) physicians completed the survey. Although 62.2% of the physicians completed some form of training about medical cannabis, nearly all (95.8%) desired to know more about the dosing, side effects, and safety of cannabis. Physicians identified a potential role of cannabis in the management of nausea and vomiting (85.7%), chronic pain (72.3%), cachexia/poor appetite (67.2%), and anxiety or depression (42.9%). Only four (0.3%) physicians recognized cannabis to be potentially useful as an anticancer agent. Nearly all physicians reported that cannabis-related research for symptom relief is essential (91.5%) in pediatric oncology, whereas 51.7% expressed that future studies are necessary to determine the anticancer effects of cannabis.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that most pediatric oncologists and palliative care physicians recognize a potential role for cannabis in symptom control in children with cancer. Well-conducted studies are required to create evidence for cannabis use and promote shared decision making with pediatric oncology patients and their caregivers.