Time to rethink cannabis in cancer pain treatment

Medical cannabis is an “underutilized” method of treating pain associated with cancer according to Toronto-based orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Ferguson.

Speaking at the Physicians Medical Cannabis Seminar, Dr. Ferguson called for a closer look at using cannabis in place of conventional drugs to treat pain following cancer-related surgeries.

Dr. Ferguson specializes in treating cancers of the bone by removing tumours surgically. These are difficult but lifesaving operations that can last up to 14 hours.

Skilled surgeons are often successful at removing the threat of cancer, but it is common for patients to suffer from pain as a side effect of the surgery.

Prescribing opiates is currently the most common way for doctors to treat cancer pain following a patient’s surgery. These drugs offer relief from acute pain, but there are a number of side effects associated with long-term use of opiates, including addiction.

Growing evidence suggest that medical cannabis could provide a solution to the negative side effects caused by the overuse of opiates. Cannabis offers a non-addictive alternative without the nausea and drowsiness of opiates.

Dr. Ferguson agrees that the medical community needs to look more closely at cannabis to improve patient care in Canada.