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Cancer is a group of diseases characterised by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells. This complex and diverse condition can develop in virtually any part of the body, resulting in over 200 different types of cancer. The most common forms include breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers. Cancer occurs when genetic mutations disrupt the normal cell life cycle, causing cells to grow and divide uncontrollably. Various factors, such as genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental exposures, contribute to the development of cancer. Early detection, innovative treatment options, and prevention efforts are crucial in reducing the global burden of this life-threatening disease.

What is Cancer

Cancer is a group of diseases characterised by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. These cells can form tumours, invade nearby tissues and organs, and metastasize to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. 


Cancer symptoms can vary widely depending on the type and stage of the disease. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Changes in the skin, such as yellowing, darkening, or redness
  • Changes in existing moles or the appearance of new skin growths
  • Pain that persists or worsens
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Difficulty swallowing or persistent indigestion
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • Lumps or thickening in certain areas of the body

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by non-cancerous conditions. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional if you’re experiencing any persistent or unusual symptoms.


Cancer develops when genetic mutations disrupt the normal cell life cycle, causing cells to grow and divide uncontrollably. Various factors contribute to the development of cancer, including:

  1. Genetic predisposition: Individuals with a family history of cancer may have an increased risk due to inherited genetic mutations.
  2. Lifestyle choices: Factors such as tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, physical inactivity, and obesity can increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
  3. Environmental exposures: Exposure to harmful substances or radiation, such as asbestos, radon, or ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, can contribute to cancer development.
  4. Infections: Certain viral or bacterial infections, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) or Helicobacter pylori, can increase the risk of specific cancers.


While not all cancers can be prevented, some strategies can help reduce the risk of developing cancer:

  1. Tobacco cessation: Avoiding tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke can significantly reduce the risk of various cancers, particularly lung cancer.
  2. Healthy diet and exercise: Maintaining a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with regular physical activity, can help lower cancer risk.
  3. Sun protection: Limiting exposure to UV radiation by using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding excessive sun exposure can reduce the risk of skin cancer.
  4. Vaccinations: Receiving vaccinations for specific viruses, such as HPV and hepatitis B, can help prevent certain cancers associated with these infections.
  5. Regular screenings: Early detection through routine cancer screenings, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, or Pap tests, can help identify cancer in its early stages and improve treatment outcomes.

By incorporating these preventive measures and maintaining regular check-ups with healthcare professionals, individuals can take proactive steps to reduce their cancer risk and promote overall health.

Medical Marijuana as a Treatment for Cancer

Medical marijuana, or medical cannabis, refers to the use of the Cannabis plant and its components (cannabinoids) to treat various medical conditions, including cancer. The two main cannabinoids used for medicinal purposes are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

How does medical marijuana help?

Medical marijuana has been suggested to help alleviate some symptoms and side effects commonly associated with cancer and its treatments:

  1. Pain relief: Both THC and CBD have analgesic properties that may help manage chronic pain associated with cancer or cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.
  2. Nausea and vomiting: THC, in particular, has been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
  3. Appetite stimulation: Medical cannabis, especially THC, can stimulate appetite, which can be beneficial for cancer patients experiencing weight loss or anorexia.
  4. Anxiety and mood regulation: Medical marijuana may help alleviate anxiety and depression, which can be experienced by individuals undergoing cancer treatment.

It’s important to note that while medical marijuana may help with symptom management, it is not considered a cure for cancer.

Cannabinoids and Terpenes for Cancer

In addition to the major cannabinoids like THC and CBD, there are other minor cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis plants that may have potential benefits for managing cancer symptoms and side effects.

Which cannabinoids and terpenes are most effective?

  1. Cannabigerol (CBG): CBG is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and potential anti-tumor properties, which may be beneficial for individuals with cancer.
  2. Beta-caryophyllene: This terpene has demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, potentially providing relief from pain and inflammation associated with cancer.
  3. Linalool: Linalool is a terpene with sedative and anxiolytic properties, which may help alleviate anxiety and improve sleep quality in cancer patients.

It’s important to note that research on specific cannabinoids and terpenes for cancer is still limited, and more studies are needed to determine their safety and efficacy. If you are considering using medical marijuana for cancer-related symptoms, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who is knowledgeable about medical cannabis. They can help you determine the most appropriate treatment plan and monitor your progress to ensure the safe and effective use of medical marijuana for your specific needs.

Dosage and Consumption Methods

Recommended dosage:

Figuring out the right dose of medical marijuana can be hard because people’s reactions to cannabinoids and terpenes can be very different. Factors such as the specific condition being treated, the patient’s weight, metabolism, and prior experience with cannabis all play a role in determining the right dosage.
Most of the time, it is best to start with a low dose and slowly increase it until you get the effects you want while minimizing any possible side effects. For patients who are new to medical marijuana, starting with 2.5–5 mg of THC or CBD and slowly titrating upwards is often advised.

However, consulting a healthcare professional experienced in medical marijuana is essential to developing a personalized dosing plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

Consumption methods:

There are several methods of consuming medical marijuana, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some common consumption methods include:

  1. Inhalation (smoking or vaping): Inhalation provides rapid onset of effects, usually within minutes, making it suitable for patients requiring immediate relief. However, smoking may pose respiratory risks, while vaping has been associated with lung injuries in some cases.
  2. Oral ingestion (edibles, capsules, tinctures): Ingesting medical marijuana provides longer-lasting effects compared to inhalation but has a slower onset, typically taking 30 minutes to 2 hours for effects to be felt. This method is suitable for patients requiring sustained relief but may require careful dosing to avoid overconsumption.
  3. Topical application (creams, balms, patches): Topicals can provide localized relief for conditions such as arthritis or skin disorders without producing psychoactive effects. The onset of action and duration of effects can vary depending on the product formulation and individual absorption rates.
  4. Sublingual administration (tinctures, dissolvable strips): Sublingual products are absorbed through the mucous membranes under the tongue, providing rapid onset of effects without the need for inhalation or ingestion. This method offers discreet consumption and precise dosing.

Obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card

Why get a medical marijuana card?

Getting a medical marijuana card is helpful for patients who are looking for other ways to treat their conditions.

  1. Legal protection: A medical marijuana card allows patients to possess, use, and in some cases, cultivate cannabis for medical purposes, within their state’s legal limits.
  2. Access to quality products: Medical marijuana dispensaries offer a wide range of tested and regulated cannabis products, ensuring patients receive safe and effective medication.
  3. Tax savings: In some states, medical marijuana patients are exempt from certain taxes applied to recreational cannabis sales.
  4. Professional guidance: Medical marijuana cardholders have access to healthcare professionals who can provide personalized recommendations, dosing advice, and ongoing support.

How to apply:

The process of obtaining a medical marijuana card varies by state but generally involves the following steps:

  1. Consult with medical marijuana consultants to determine if medical marijuana is appropriate for your condition and obtain a written recommendation.
  2. Complete an application with the required documentation, including proof of residency, identification, and the healthcare professional’s recommendation.
  3. Submit the application to the appropriate state agency, along with any required fees.
  4. Await approval and issuance of the medical marijuana card.

Risks and Side Effects

Potential risks:

While medical marijuana can offer relief and improve the quality of life for many patients, it also carries certain risks and side effects. Some potential risks associated with medical marijuana use include:

  1. Dependency and addiction: Although the risk of addiction is considered lower than that of opioids or alcohol, some individuals may develop a dependency on cannabis.
  2. Impaired cognitive function: THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, can impair memory, attention, and reaction times, particularly with prolonged or heavy use.
  3. Respiratory issues: Smoking cannabis can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis and lung irritation. Vaping has also been linked to lung injuries in some cases.
  4. Mental health concerns: High doses of THC or predisposition to mental health disorders can lead to increased anxiety, paranoia, or exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
  5. Drug interactions: Medical marijuana may interact with other medications, either enhancing or diminishing their effects. It is essential to discuss potential drug interactions with a healthcare professional before starting medical marijuana therapy.


Medical marijuana might not be right for every patient, especially those who already have certain health problems or risk factors. Contraindications to medical marijuana use may include:

  1. Personal or family history of substance abuse or addiction
  2. Severe liver or kidney disease
  3. Severe cardiovascular disease
  4. Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  5. History of psychosis or other severe mental health disorders
  6. Allergies or hypersensitivity to cannabis or its components

Legal Status

Where is it legal?

In the United States, the laws about medical marijuana are always changing. Currently, over 30 states and the District of Columbia allow its use under certain conditions. Each state has its own rules and a list of medical conditions that are allowed to use medical marijuana.

Even though some states have made medical marijuana legal, it is still illegal at the federal level because it is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act.

This difference between state and federal laws can make it harder for medical marijuana patients to get jobs, find housing, or travel across state lines, among other things. Patients should research their state’s guidelines and remain aware of potential legal risks.


Medical marijuana could help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for many people with long-term or debilitating illnesses.

When thinking about this treatment option, it’s important to know the right dose, how to use it, how to get a medical marijuana card, possible risks, side effects, and legal status.

Work closely with a doctor or nurse who knows a lot about medical marijuana to find out if it is a good and safe choice for your needs.

As the legal landscape surrounding medical marijuana continues to evolve, staying informed about changing regulations and guidelines is essential to ensuring responsible and compliant use.

As the field of medical marijuana continues to evolve, it’s crucial for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers to stay informed about the latest research and developments. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the current landscape, but it’s always important to consult with healthcare providers for personalized advice.

Note: This article’s content is provided for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional legal or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or queries regarding laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult a lawyer, physician, or other licensed practitioner.