Background: Cannabis for cancer is very topical and, given the use of illicit cannabis preparations used in this vulnerable population, research investigating standardised, quality-assured medicinal cannabis is critical to inform clinicians and assist patient safety.
Methods: A randomized trial involving adult patients diagnosed with a high-grade glioma, no history of substance abuse, liver or kidney damage or myocardial infarction were eligible for inclusion in a tolerability study on two different ratios of medicinal cannabis. Baseline screening of brain morphology, blood pathology, functional status, and cognition was conducted. A retrospective control group was used for comparison for secondary outcomes.
Results: Participants (n=88) were on average 53.3 years old. A paired t-test assessed the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy for Brain Cancer (FACT-Br) between groups from baseline to week 12 found that the 1:1 ratio favoured both physical (p=0.025) and functional (p=0.014) capacity and improved sleep (p=0.009). Analysis of changes from baseline to week 12 also found 11% of 61 participants had a reduction in disease, 34% were stable, 16% had slight enhancement, and 10% had progressive disease. No serious adverse events occurred. Side effects included dry mouth, tiredness at night, dizziness, drowsiness.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated that a single nightly dose of THC-containing medicinal cannabis was safe, had no serious adverse effects and was well tolerated in patients. Medicinal cannabis significantly improved sleep, functional wellbeing, and quality of life.