Brain Cancer

What is brain cancer?

A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cancer cells growing within your brain. Many different types of brain tumors exist. Some brain tumors are noncancerous, and some brain tumors are cancerous. Brain tumors can begin in your brain, start in other parts of your body as lung, bladder, or testicular cancer, and later spread to your brain as a secondary tumor.

Per the National Cancer Institute, the quickness with which a brain tumor grows can vary significantly. The growth rate and the location of a brain tumor determine how it will affect your nervous system. Options for brain tumor treatment depend on your type of brain tumor, size, location, and if it’s advanced cancer.

What causes brain cancer?

Most people diagnosed with a brain tumor don’t realize they have been exposed to brain cancer risk factors. However, certain risk factors and health conditions have been shown to increase a person’s chances of developing one, including:

  • The risk of a brain tumor increases significantly with age.
  • People exposed to radiation therapy used to treat cancer and radiation exposure caused by atomic bombs have an increased brain tumor risk.
  • Rare genetic conditions such as Von Hippel-Lindau disease, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and Neurofibromatosis may increase the risk of developing specific brain tumors. Otherwise, there isn’t much scientific evidence that brain cancer is genetic. 

Symptoms of Brain Cancer

Brain tumors don’t typically have apparent symptoms, so there aren’t yet many suggestions for cancer prevention. Headaches that worsen over time can be a symptom of many conditions, including brain tumors. Other symptoms can include changes in mood or personality, eye weakness, nausea, cognitive function loss, and short-term memory loss. Even benign brain tumors can be severe and life-threatening. If you experience these symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider immediately.

Brain Cancer Statistics

Here are some quick brain tumor facts provided by BrainTumor.Org and the American Cancer Society:

  • An estimated 700,000 Americans are living with a primary brain tumor
  • Approximately 71% of all brain tumors are benign
  • About 29% of all brain tumors are malignant
  • About 58% of all brain tumors occur in females
  • About 42% of all brain tumors occur in males
  • An estimated 88,970 people will receive a primary brain tumor diagnosis in 2022
  • An estimated 63,040 will be non-malignant or benign
  • Meningiomas are the most commonly occurring primary non-malignant brain tumors, accounting for 39% of all tumors and 54.5% of all non-malignant tumors
  • Glioblastoma is the most widely occurring primary malignant brain tumor, accounting for 14.3% of all tumors and 49.1% of all malignant tumors
  • The median age at diagnosis for a primary brain tumor is 61 years
  • Males have a 1 in 143 chance of developing brain cancer in their lifetime and a 1 in 188 chance of dying from brain cancer.
  • For females, the chance of developing brain cancer is 1 in 186, with a 1 in 239 chance of dying from the disease
  • The average survival rate for all primary brain tumor patients is 75.7%
  • Survival rates vary by age and tumor type and generally decrease with age
  • For non-malignant brain tumor patients, the average five-year survival rate is 91.8%
  • For malignant brain tumor patients, the five-year relative survival rate following diagnosis is 35.6%
  • For the most common form of primary malignant brain tumor, glioblastoma, the five-year close survival rate is only 6.8%, and the median survival is only eight months
  • More than 18,200 people are estimated to lose their life because of brain cancer in 2022
  • There are currently over 100 distinct types of primary brain tumors, each with its spectrum of presentations, treatments, and outcomes

Marijuana and Cancer

Medical marijuana is commonly found to possess significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can quickly help with chronic pain management and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Cannabinoid receptors within a cannabis Sativa plant bind to the brain and peripheral nerve cells and help regulate how you see and feel the pain to reduce symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and severe cancer pain.

Medical marijuana use, as opposed to other non-cannabinoid drugs, appears to be an excellent alternative to treat brain cancer patients and manage pain due to nerve damage or chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Its medical use can also promote appetite in cancer patients who have experienced appetite and weight loss.

Federal Law & Cancer Patients

The 2018 United States Farm Bill describes hemp as a cannabis plant containing less than 0.3% THC. Hemp oil or CBD oil are products manufactured from extracts of industrial hemp. In contrast, the hemp seed oil is an edible fatty oil that is essentially cannabinoid-free. Some products contain other botanical extracts or non-prescription analgesics and are available as oral and topical tinctures for cancer pain management.

According to medical marijuana laws, hemp products containing less than 0.3% delta-9-THC are not scheduled or considered illegal drugs. According to the drug enforcement administration, they can be regarded as Farm Bill compliant for cancer patients.

CAM information

CAM represents cancer complementary and alternative medicine. These complementary and integrative health alternative therapies include:

  • massage
  • acupuncture
  • tai chi
  • inhaled marijuana
  • green tea
  • yoga
  • meditation
  • natural vitamins and supplements

Best Strains for Cancer patients

When it comes to the best medical marijuana strains to help a brain cancer patient, you need something to treat more severe pain and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Since it is still a controlled substance, there isn’t much research regarding the best strains. Fortunately, many strains work extraordinarily to relieve muscle spasms, decrease blood pressure and swelling, and treat nausea, vomiting, tension, anxiety, and depression. 

Clinical Trials

A significant clinical trial from the United Kingdom of the cannabis-based drug Sativex in treating the most aggressive form of brain tumor is launched at fifteen hospitals, following promising clinical evidence from a phase one small clinical trial with twenty-seven patients.

The new phase two randomized controlled trial by the University of Leeds will assess whether adding Sativex – an oral spray containing cannabinoids THC and CBD – to chemotherapy could extend the lives of thousands of patients diagnosed with recurrent glioblastoma. Currently, clinical trials prove that this disease has an average survival of fewer than ten months, especially if you begin treating cancer at a late stage.

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer research:

  • Cannabis has been used for purposes for thousands of years.
  • By federal law, the possession of Cannabis is illegal in the United States, except within approved research settings; however, a growing number of states, territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize its medical and recreational use.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved Cannabis as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition.
  • Chemical components of Cannabis, called cannabinoids, activate specific receptors throughout the body to produce pharmacological effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system.
  • Cannabinoids such as dronabinol and nabilone are approved drugs to treat cancer-related side effects and pain. Health insurance companies are far behind in supporting these drugs for use.
  • Per the National Cancer Institute, cannabinoids may assist cancer patients with the treatment of cancer-related side effects.

Summary

Discovering a way to cope with cancer-related pain can be a difficult task. It’s not easy finding conventional medications that are effective or that our bodies respond to correctly. Many prescription drugs have side effects, so that medical marijuana can be a life-changing alternative for some cancer patients.

Remember, marijuana doesn’t cure cancer but helps manage chemotherapy and radiation symptoms. Discuss medical cannabis use with your physician and follow their advice on your cancer treatment plan. The severe health consequences of mixing cancer, chemotherapy, or other medications without approval can be painful. We recommend visiting the local dispensary for those who have cleared it with your doctor; you may find the connection between marijuana and cancer helps you get some relief.

Last Updated: July 26, 2023

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