CBD May Boost Survival Rates For Pancreatic Cancer Patients By 3X
A new study from the Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in the UK in coordination with the Curtin University in Bentley and Perth, Australia, revealed that CBD may extend survival rates for pancreatic cancer patients. The researchers have been studying ways to increase survival rates for this condition because patients have a very short life expectancy.
Lead researcher Professor Marco Falasca of QUML and his colleagues administered CBD together with Gemcitabine, a common chemotherapy medication, to mouse models with pancreatic cancer, and the findings revealed promising results. “The life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients has barely changed in the last 40 years because there are very few, and mostly only palliative care, treatments available,” says Prof. Falasca.
“Given the poor 5-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer… the discovery of new treatments and therapeutic strategies is urgently needed,” he says.
Pancreatic cancer is extremely aggressive and has one of the lowest survival rates compared to all other cancers.
“This is a remarkable result. We found that mice with pancreatic cancer survived nearly three times longer if a constituent of medicinal cannabis was added to their chemotherapy treatment,” he says. “Cannabidiol is already approved for use in clinics, which means we can quickly go on to test this in human trials. If we can reproduce these effects in humans, cannabidiol could be in use in cancer clinics almost immediately, compared to having to wait for authorities to approve a new drug.”
The researchers also state that CBD is already well-known for its ability to mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In doing so, CBD can already contribute to a better quality of life for patients undergoing chemo. The study was supported by the UK’s Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, and Scotland’s Beatson Institute for Cancer Research.
Prognosis and Treatment of Patients With Pancreatic Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, around 48,960 people each year are diagnosed with this disease, and and 40,560 people die from pancreatic cancer annually. Data from Cancer Research, the journal of the American Association, states that pancreatic cancer is projected to be the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States by 2030.
This is because pancreatic cancer is so difficult to diagnose, compounded by the fact that it is an aggressive cancer and there is a limited amount of systemic treatments for it available today. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer patients is only at 5%. The low prognosis is due to several reasons; for one, the location of the pancreas is deep within the abdomen which makes it difficult to use imaging procedures to visualize. Dense tissue typically also surrounds pancreatic tumors, which could interfere with the chemotherapy treatment focused on the tumors. Additionally, pancreatic cancer tends to metastasize very early on.
There are five kinds of standard treatment options offered to pancreatic cancer patients. If the cancer is detected in its early stages, it may be removed using a whipple procedure, total pancreatectomy, or distal pancreatectomy. Palliative surgery may also be recommended to minimize symptoms while improving the patients’ quality of life. Radiation therapy or chemotherapy may also be recommended to kill or stop the growth of cancer cells. Targeted therapy, or Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), works by blocking signals that tumors rely on to grow.
Pancreatic cancer also causes pain, which occurs when the tumor presses on organs or nerves located nearby. Strong pain medications may be prescribed, and when it is no longer adequate, doctors may inject medicines in the area near the affected nerves to block feelings of pain. When radiation with or without chemotherapy works by effectively shrinking tumors, this can also reduce the pain caused by pancreatic cancer.
Despite these treatments, it is still not enough in increasing the survival rates of patients with pancreatic cancer. This is why patients may want to look into augmenting their cancer treatments with CBD, due to the increasing number of studies showing how it or other compounds in the cannabis plant can help improve prognosis for cancer in general.