Along with the spread of legal medical marijuana in many countries, including Poland, its medical potential is being researched in more detail. Today we will present the results of observations and studies on the effects of medical marijuana on oral cancer.
What is oral cancer? It is a type of cancer that can occur in different parts of the mouth. Until now, doctors treat him in the same way as cancers of the neck and head. There are two categories within the classification of this type of cancer: oral cancer, which occurs in parts of the mouth such as the lips, tongue, gums, and inside the cheeks, and oropharyngeal cancer, which occurs in the mouth and throat, including the base of the mouth. tongue, tonsils and other parts of the middle throat.
The origins of research and diagnosis in the field of oral cancer were very uncertain. When dentists or doctors found changes in the patient’s mouth, they offered a painful biopsy. Patients then waited a long time for laboratory test results to see if the lesion was cancerous or not. Doctors did not have the appropriate equipment to look at lesions in early development and decide if they needed a biopsy for further diagnosis. They also did not know much about the specific causes of oral cancer. Except where alcohol and tobacco are known and relatively obvious risk factors, doctors could not tell whether oral cancer was a genetic or viral disease. Accordingly, by the time of actual diagnosis, most oral cancers were in an advanced stage. Treatment typically involved radiation therapy to shrink the tumor, followed by neck and head surgery to remove it. In some cases, the surgery disfigured the patient.
With increasing education and public awareness of oral cancer, we have seen improvements in early detection as well as treatment. Over the past fifty years, improvements in surgical procedures and radiation therapy, in addition to adding chemotherapy to oral cancer therapy, have been beneficial in combating the spread of oral cancer to other areas of the body. The more improvements are available to the tools used to detect precancerous oral lesions, fewer people will die from this disease.
What are the common symptoms of oral cancer? These can include: lumps or bumps, lumps / swellings, crusts, rough spots or eroded areas on the gums, lips, or other parts of the inside of the mouth; unexplained bleeding in the mouth; development of red or white spots in the mouth; difficulty speaking, swallowing, chewing, or moving the tongue or jaw; unexplained numbness, tenderness, pain or loss of sensation in any area of the mouth, face, or neck; permanent sores on the neck, mouth or face that bleed easily and do not heal within weeks; ear ache; chronic pharyngitis, hoarseness or voice change; changes in the fit of dentures or teeth. If any of the above symptoms occur, contact your doctor immediately.
Oral cancer occurs worldwide with high morbidity and mortality. For the time being, it unfortunately shows low survival rates and poor prognosis for recovery. Some mouth cancer patients also find it difficult to recover, others eat, drink, breathe and swallow, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Cancer can affect speech and the procedure can distort your face.
If you get radiation therapy, it can make your mouth dry and affect your taste buds. Surgery involving the mouth, throat, lips, jaw, or tongue can change appearance, and reconstructive surgery and a modern surgical approach are even better because they cause less scarring.
While oral cancer has the above physical symptoms and effects, it can also have psychological effects. Coping with a diagnosis of oral cancer can be difficult, both emotionally and practically. Most likely, you will feel scared, nervous and confused, which can also cause other problems, including depression. A person with oral cancer may find it difficult to communicate with others, may have low self-esteem, and be socially isolated. In a study of 206 patients published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, most patients diagnosed with oral cancer suffered emotionally and had a low quality of life before surgery due to a lack of the emotional support they needed. The conclusions of the study indicate that meeting the psychological needs of patients with oral cancer is essential and that physicians should include psychological counseling in the patient’s treatment plan.
Treatment for oral cancer depends on the stage and location of the cancer, personal preferences, and overall health. Your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of several treatments, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted drug therapy.
A surgeon can perform any type of surgery, for example, remove a tumor, cut a patient’s neck, to get rid of cancerous lymph nodes and other cancer-related tissue in your neck, if your cancer cells begin to spread to your neck and lymph nodes. It can also reconstruct the oral cavity, transplant skin, bones or muscles from other parts of the body for reconstruction, and finally it can replace natural teeth with dental implants. Surgery, however, carries some risks, such as infection, bleeding, difficulty swallowing, talking or eating, and changes in appearance. The patient may need a special tube to help him eat, drink or take medications. The tube is for temporary use and your doctor will insert it into your stomach through your nose. If you need it for a long time, your doctor will insert a tube through your skin into your stomach. In some cases, a breathing tube may be necessary, but it is usually temporary.
In the case of radiation therapy, the doctor uses high-energy protons or X-ray beams to kill cancer cells. If you’re in the early stages of mouth cancer, you may only need radiation therapy and no other treatment. In some cases, the surgeon will either use radiation therapy after surgery or combine it with chemotherapy. Side effects of oral cancer radiotherapy can include: caries, dry mouth, jaw damage, trismus, fatigue, bleeding gums, and reddening-like reactions.
Chemotherapy, in turn, uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Sometimes your doctor combines chemotherapy with radiation therapy to make the radiation therapy more effective. The side effects of chemotherapy usually depend on the medications you are taking. However, the most common side effects include hair loss, nausea, and vomiting.
Time for targeted drug therapy. With this therapy, target drugs alter some aspects of cancer cells and influence their growth. The only drug approved for the treatment of neck and head cancer is Cetuximab (Erbitux). Your doctor may combine targeted medications with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
How and why can medical marijuana be an effective treatment for oral cancer? Hundreds of medical and scientific studies around the world confirm that cannabis can kill cancer cells – even those that are traditionally resistant to cancer treatment, such as in the case of oral cancer. However, research from the United States shows that the cannabinoids in cannabis may be the key to treating oral cancer cells.
THC is the main cannabinoid found in cannabis and contains many of the plant’s medicinal benefits. A 2010 study entitled ‘Cannabinoids inhibit the cellular respiration of human oral cancer cells’ investigated how this cannabinoid acts on cancer cells. Scientists have discovered several major benefits of THC, including that it interferes with the mitochondrial function of cancer cells by inhibiting cellular respiration. TCH also has antitumor activity that is toxic to malignant tumors.
Oral cancer cells are highly resistant to most anti-cancer drugs, which is why researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at New York State University were so interested in discovering the potential of THC to treat this form of cancer.
The results of this study prove that marijuana-based drugs can be used to treat even the most resistant forms of cancer. This alone is evidence that the US government and other countries should rethink the classification of marijuana, at least to allow further medical research.
In addition to ongoing research into the potential of medical marijuana for oral cancer, it should not be forgotten that it can also treat the numerous side effects and symptoms of this type of cancer. Scientists and researchers have found through many years of research and testing that medical marijuana is effective in treating or relieving nausea, vomiting, pain, anxiety, depression and loss of appetite.
As medical marijuana continues to grow in popularity, the methods of getting it into the body continue to evolve. While many associate cannabis with smoking, it is not the healthiest option for those with mouth cancer. When you inhale tobacco smoke, most of the cannabinoids enter your body through your lungs and then enter your bloodstream. This direct exchange provides the fastest results compared to other delivery methods. However, as has already been said, this is not the healthiest way to treat mouth cancer. Instead, you can try other methods such as: vaping, ingestion in the form of food, juices, ointments and creams, transdermal, sublingual administration, and finally hemp oil. However, the most important thing is to find a good specialist who will advise you and try to choose the right dose. Due to the scant amount of research on this subject, it is a dream come true for now. Therefore, it remains only to hope for more extensive research in the field of oral cancer treatment, as well as greater availability of medical marijuana in our home market. Especially since we are writing these words on the day when the first batch of medical marijuana from Canada arrived in Poland.