Madrid, Spain – The Spanish Medical Cannabis Observatory (OECM) made an official statement last week warning patients with cancer against injecting cannabis preparations directly into their tumours.
The organisation, formed to promote the use of medical cannabis in Spain, includes prominent scientists specializing in the field of cannabinoids and cancer, such as Manuel Guzmán and Cristina Sanchez. They were shocked to receive a number of enquiries from patients asking about injecting cannabis directly into cancerous tumours.
Techniques used in the laboratory not suitable for cancer patients
Dr Guzmán in particular is known for having performed a stage 1 clinical trial using cannabinoids for cancer treatment, which involved injecting THC directly into the brain tumours of the patients taking part.
With a common prognosis of little more than 24 weeks, researchers were encouraged that two patients were alive one year later (although they have both since died). They also noted that THC was at least safe and did “not facilitate tumour growth nor decrease patient survival.”
In preclinical trials carried out at the Complutense University in Madrid cannabinoids are also regularly directly into tumours on animal models.
However, Guzmán and his colleagues at the OECM are quick to point out, that any success in the laboratory or initial human trials, certainly doesn’t make this a safe technique for a non-clinical setting, particularly as no cannabis products in the marketplace are designed for this particular use.
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Injecting cannabis into tumours could be fatal
“Injectable products must be sterile,” writes the OECM. “If they’re not, the risk of bacterial contamination if very high, which could cause infection in the surrounding tissue, resulting in possible sepsis and risking the life of the patient.”
They go on, “another serious consequence could be rupturing the structure of the tumour, causing the cancer cells to leak into the bloodstream and surrounding tissue, increasing the risk of metastasis to other organs”.
Endoca spoke to Dr Guzmán who said so far he and his colleagues have only fielded enquiries from desperate patients ‘who’d heard’ that injecting cannabis directly into tumours is possible.
“We don’t know if anyone has actually done this yet,” says Guzmán, “but it is so potentially dangerous that we felt it important to stop these rumours in their tracks before people start trying it out for themselves.”