Cannabis found to benefit chemotherapy patients


Researchers behind a trial co-developed and managed by the CTC have published preliminary results from a ground-breaking clinical trial of medicinal cannabis for cancer patients that found it could help reduce nausea and vomiting, two common and debilitating side effects of chemotherapy.

The CannabisCINV study is funded by the NSW Government’s $21 million investment in exploring the therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis, including world-first clinical trials. The world’s largest trial of medicinal cannabis at the time it launched, CannabisCINV is a collaboration between the CTC, Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, the University of Sydney, and leading NSW cancer centres.

Results published in Annals of Oncology found a significant improvement in the control of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. A quarter of the patients taking medicinal cannabis experienced no vomiting and nausea, compared to 14 per cent of people who took a placebo.

The pilot phase of the study ran for two-and-a-half years with 81 participants enrolled. To be included in the study, patients had to have already experienced nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy despite having taken nausea prevention medication.

“Nausea and vomiting are among the most distressing and feared consequences of chemotherapy,” said chief investigator, Peter Grimison, medical oncologist at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. “These encouraging results indicate medicinal cannabis can help improve quality of life for chemotherapy patients.”

Side effects such as sedation, dizziness and drowsiness were rated as moderate to severe in about one third of people using medicinal cannabis, but these are considered manageable.

“The trial will now move to a larger phase to determine with much more certainty how effective medicinal cannabis is and whether it should be considered for use in routine cancer care,” Professor Grimison said. “The next phase of the trial is ongoing and will recruit an extra 170 people.”

The trial is sponsored by the University of Sydney. Medicinal cannabis is supplied by Tilray, a GMP-certified medical cannabis producer.


This media release appeared in University news.

Channel 9 ran this news story on the results.

View the CannabisCINV trial page.