International forskning

Cannabis-based medicines and medical cannabis for adults with cancer pain (Review)

Häuser W, Welsch P, Radbruch L, Fisher E, Bell RF, Moore RA

Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Technische Universität München, München, Germany


Background Pain is a common symptom in people with cancer; 30% to 50% of people with cancer will experience moderate-to-severe pain. This can have a major negative impact on their quality of life. Opioid (morphine-like) medications are commonly used to treat moderate or severe cancer pain, and are recommended for this purpose in the World Health Organization (WHO) pain treatment ladder. Pain is not sufficiently relieved by opioid medications in 10% to 15% of people with cancer. In people with insufficient relief of cancer pain, new analgesics are needed to effectively and safely supplement or replace opioids. Objectives To evaluate the benefits and harms of cannabis-based medicines, including medical cannabis, for treating pain and other symptoms in adults with cancer compared to placebo or any other established analgesic for cancer pain. Search methods We used standard, extensive Cochrane search methods. The latest search date was 26 January 2023. Selection criteria We selected double-blind randomised, controlled trials (RCT) of medical cannabis, plant-derived and synthetic cannabis-based medicines against placebo or any other active treatment for cancer pain in adults, with any treatment duration and at least 10 participants per treatment arm. Data collection and analysis We used standard Cochrane methods. The primary outcomes were 1. proportions of participants reporting no worse than mild pain; 2. Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC) of much improved or very much improved and 3. withdrawals due to adverse events. Secondary outcomes were 4. number of participants who reported pain relief of 30% or greater and overall opioid use reduced or stable; 5. number of participants who reported pain relief of 30% or greater, or 50% or greater; 6. pain intensity; 7. sleep problems; 8. depression and anxiety; 9. daily maintenance and breakthrough opioid dosage; 10. dropouts due to lack of efficacy; 11. all central nervous system adverse events. We used GRADE to assess certainty of evidence for each outcome.