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More Breast Cancer Patients Turning to Cannabis to Treat Symptoms

A new survey also says they're missing one crucial step.

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This story originally appeared on The Fresh Toast

Cannabis has long been used to treat symptoms of cancer. But now a new survey shows that while this is still the case, many patients are wary of sharing this information with their doctors.

The survey was conducted online and anonymously, with over 600 breast cancer patients. While the vast majority of participants were women, there were also a few men involved in the survey. The responses were gathered through Breastcancer.org and Healthline.com.

RELATED: Cannabis vs. Pharmaceutical Medicine: One Not Very Surprising Study

Treating symptoms

Per the survey’s results, 42% of participants reported using cannabis to treat their symptoms, which include vomiting, pain, nausea, insomnia, stress and more. The survey showed that while 39% of participants mentioned cannabis use to their doctors, only 4% of them asked further questions to obtain more information about the drug from their physicians. According to participants, sources like friends, the internet, or dispensaries, were used instead.

When it comes to the reason why these patients are turning to cannabis, the majority of participants (70%) considered the drug an alternative treatment similar to plant-based medicine, providing less side effects than the “chemicals” that are often present in other medications.

RELATED: Cannabis May Prevent This Major Side Effect of Chemotherapy

Doctors should be in the loop

Dr. Marisa Weiss, lead author of the study, spoke with NBC News and shared some of her insights on the study. She said that while it’s okay that people are using cannabis to treat the symptoms of their cancer, she worries about their doctors not being in the loop. “Some of these products can interact with treatments they are taking, and there is a safety issue there,” she said. “We want to make sure they get relief from their symptoms without interfering with the treatments.”

While it’s understandable for doctors to not know all there is to know about medicinal cannabis, as the drug becomes more available, it’s important for them to have all of the information to help them guide their patients, including the possible side effects of choosing an alternative treatment like cannabis. Patients should be open with their doctors, but it’s the doctors’ responsibility to do their research on the topics their patients could use to treat their diseases.