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Medical cannabis for refractory cancer-related pain in a specialised clinical service: a cross-sectional study
  1. Haggai Sharon1,2,3,4,
  2. Yara Agbaria2,4,
  3. Silviu Brill1,3,
  4. Jesus de Santiago5 and
  5. Uri Hochberg1,3
  1. 1Institute of Pain Medicine, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv, Israel
  2. 2Sagol Brain Institute, Wohl Institute for Advanced Imaging, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel aviv, Israel
  3. 3Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
  4. 4Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
  5. 5Department of Anesthesia and Chronic Pain Unit, Hospital Quirónsalud de Tenerife, Palmones, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Uri Hochberg, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Tel Aviv 6997712, Israel; urihochberg{at}


Background and objectives Cancer-related pain management in advanced stages presents a significant challenge that often requires a multidisciplinary approach. Although advancements in pharmacological and interventional therapies, a considerable number of patients still suffer from refractory pain, leading to unmet clinical needs. This study shares our experience with medical cannabis (MC) as a potential therapy for this specific population of patients with cancer-related refractory pain.

Methods In a cross-sectional study, 252 consecutive refractory cancer-related pain patients (mean age=61.71, SD=14.02, 47.6% males) filled out detailed self-report questionnaires. Of these, 126 patients (55%) were treated with MC and 105 patients (45%) were not.

Results Most patients received pain management from their oncologist, not a pain specialist. MC was mainly started for pain relief, sleep difficulties and anorexia. About 70% of patients reported subjective improvement from MC, with almost 40% reporting a significant improvement in coping with their illness. Side effects were generally mild, with fatigue and dizziness being the most common (21.78% and 23.46%, respectively). No patient required dedicated medical care for side effects. Of non-users, 65% had tried MC before and stopped due to lack of effectiveness or side effects (39.7% and 34.6%, respectively).

Conclusion Refractory cancer pain necessitates innovative approaches. This registry highlights that MC can effectively improve symptoms in non-responsive patients, with favourable safety profiles for this vulnerable population.

  • pain
  • symptoms and symptom management

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. All data collected are available on request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. All data collected are available on request.

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  • Contributors U.H. and H.S, J.D and S.B. took an active role in creating the concept and design of the study. Y.A carried out the analysis and interpretation of data. All authors contributed to the process of writing, read, and agreed to the published version of the manuscript. author acting as guarantor (U.H).

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.