Brain cancers develop when cells in the human body refuse to follow the most fundamental rules of behavior. Cells should end their life-cycle with death. Some rogue cells that refuse to die are labelled as “abnormal,” and these abnormal cells begin to grow in the tissues of the brain to form a mass or tumor. Not all brain tumors are cancerous. Tumors that are cancerous are named according to the location of the growth within the brain.
A glioma is the most common type of adult brain tumor. A glioma can either be labeled as primary or secondary. Primary brain tumors form in and stay in the brain, whereas secondary brain tumors form in the brain because abnormal cells travel there from a different point of origin in the body. For example, a secondary brain cancer may form when lung cancer cells travel to the brain, forming a new mass within brain tissue.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, an estimated 23,000 people will be newly diagnosed with a brain tumor in the United States this year. The risk is slightly higher for men than women, and kids will account for about 4,300 of these diagnoses. Survival rates depend on several factors, of course, but the current mortality rate for a person diagnosed with brain cancer is about 60%.
Both types of growing tumors put pressure on the brain and skull, resulting in a wide variety of symptoms for the sufferer. Symptoms vary depending on the type of and location of the tumor, but both primary and secondary tumors can produce such common symptoms as headache, seizure, memory loss, personality change, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. More specific symptoms will occur depending on the location of the tumor.
Treatment is, also, dependent on the type and location of the tumor as well as the health status of the patient. Currently, the most common forms of treatment are surgery, radiotherapy, and both oral and intravenous chemotherapy, or a combination. When it comes to brain tumors, surgery is often a high risk option, and chemo or radio therapies can cause more pain and suffering than benefit for the patient. For this reason, many brain cancer patients are faced with the decision of extending their life with treatments resulting in a lesser quality of life, or giving in to the brain cancer. Perhaps there might be some assistance from the newly developing world of Medical Marijuana?
According to a study published by the American Journal of Cancer Research, even if one or more of the current, leading, treatments are successful, it is only temporary because the “glioblastomas grow invasively into distant brain tissue, leading to tumor recurrence.” The human DNA-binding protein inhibitor ID1 plays a huge role in cell growth, and therefore, also plays a huge role in the growth of tumors. This study found that Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, can slow the role of the ID1, there by reducing the rate at which the cancer spreads. A different study published by the Journal of Pharmacology back in 2004 studied the anti-tumor effects of Cannabinoids. This study found that Cannabidiol combined with the chemotherapy drug Temozolomide (TMZ) not only significantly inhibited the growth of glioblastoma cells, but also reduced the size of tumors in lab rats.
In 2011, a 14 year old girl named Alysa Erwin was diagnosed with a brain cancer that according to doctors had a near zero survival rate. According to her Facebook page, and an article published in April 2014 in Culture Mag, after using chemotherapy treatments for just a few days, she and her parents decided to walk the path less traveled. They begin cannabinoid treatment, and claim to have seen immediate results within 30 minutes of her first does of concentrate. After 16 months of cannabis concentrate treatment, she is in remission.
These studies and past successful treatments of cancer with cannabis are just the tip of the iceberg in the studies of the roles Medicinal Marijuana might play in cancer treatments. There is still much research to be done on the anti-tumor effects of Cannabinoids. Publication of medical studies run twelve to eighteen months behind clinical research, so hopefully more studies will begin soon.