New Treatment for Pain From Oral Cancer May Be Forthcoming

More than 100 years since President Ulysses S. Grant died from oral cancer, only modest advances have been made in patient survival, or in effective treatment of the severe pain that frequently accompanies the condition. But a leading oral cancer clinician, speaking recently at the American Pain Society’s annual meeting, discussed a new cannabinoid-based medication that may offer some promise for providing meaningful pain relief.

Brian Schmidt, DDS, MD, PhD, noted that even the strongest opioid dosages are an imperfect solution to pain from oral cancer, and that they become dramatically less effective as tolerance to the medications develops. But a new medication, now in Phase 3 clinical trials in the US, may offer hope. Sativex, produced directly from marijuana plants, is administered as an oral spray and shows promise for treating cancer pain. The drug is available in Canada and Europe for treating spasticity from multiple sclerosis. Dr. Schmidt is a clinical investigator for Sativex trials in the US. Read a news story here.

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