cannabis melanoma
cannabis melanoma

Medical Cannabis for Melanoma Skin Cancer

Medical Marijuana Opens Up Doors For Melanoma Skin Cancer Patients

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Tuesday Mar 20, 2018

Cannabis for Melanoma Skin Cancer

Can Cannabis Help Treat Melanoma Skin Cancer Spots? from CannabisNet on Vimeo.


Melanoma is usually a cancer of the skin cells. It starts in the melanocytes, the cells responsible for producing the pigment called melanin which gives us color in the skin as well as in the hair and eyes.


Melanocytes can also form moles, which are a risk factor for melanoma although having a mole doesn’t mean that you will get melanoma. Melanoma is also known as malignant melanoma or cutaneous melanoma. It can develop on any surface of the skin, although they are more likely to start on the back and chest for men, and on legs for women. Other common sites include the neck and the face. Having dark skin reduces the risk for melanoma at the common areas, although anyone can develop melanoma.


Squamous cell and basal cell cancers are other common forms of skin cancer. However, these kinds of skin cancer are less likely to spread or metastasize to other parts of the body. Unlike other forms of cancer, melanoma is more easily detected on the skin during its early stages. Cancerous melanoma marks usually manifest as an asymmetrical, irregular shape that may have uneven borders. They are usually bigger than the average mole and can increase in size over time.


But if left undetected, melanoma can spread to distant organs or sites. Once melanoma spreads to other parts of the body, it is known as metastatic melanoma, and it becomes more difficult to treat. During the later stages, melanoma can spread to the lungs, liver, brain, and bones.


Around 90% of melanoma cases are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from too much sun exposure, as well as UV rays from indoor tanning beds. Other risk factors include genetics and the environment. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be an estimated 91,270 new cases of melanoma while 9,320 cases will cause death.


Treatment for melanoma will depend on the stage and location of the cancer. For stage 0 melanoma, radiation therapy or using an imiquimod cream is usually done. Other forms of treatment for later stages include wide excision surgery, immunotherapy, radiation, and chemotherapy. However, even these forms of treatment may not be as effective, resulting in the return of the cancer depending on certain risk factors.


How Cannabis Can Help


Cannabis contains valuable compounds called cannabinoids that have been shown to help treat melanoma skin cancer.


A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology used THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) to treat melanoma in animal subjects. A team of international researchers revealed that these compounds in cannabis caused the death of cancer cells through two processes called apoptosis and autophagy. The researchers administered THC and CBD in equal ratios to the animal subjects and found that by activating the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body, they were able to successfully inhibit the growth of malignant melanoma cells. The treatment also induced cell suicide (apoptosis) among cancerous tissue.


In 2003, researchers from Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas, Madrid topically applied cannabis receptor agonists to skin tumors in animal subjects. The study also confirmed that by activating cannabis receptors in the skin, this led to the death of tumor cells while slowing down tumor growth. A 2014 study followed up on the results, but this time they tested the impact of THC on chemically-induced melanoma cells. They found that THC was effective in reducing the size of skin cancer tumors.


A well-known case of cannabis treating skin cancer is that of Rick Simpson, a Canadian man who cured himself of basal cell carcinoma. He used a concentrated cannabis extract which he applied directly on the skin, but he was also already ingesting cannabis oil to help him cope with pain from a work injury. He has since developed his own cancer-killing Rick Simpson Oil to help others with cancer.


Although studies assessing the impact of cannabis on melanoma skin cancer is limited for now, there is a solid body of evidence supporting the efficacy of cannabis for multiple types of cancers. Not only does cannabis cause cancer cell death and autophagy, it also helps patients regain quality of life as they go through conventional forms of treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation, which can have uncomfortable side effects including nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and more.


Have you used cannabis to treat melanoma? Share your experience with us in the comments below!


Medical Marijuana for Melanoma Skin Cancer from CannabisNet on Vimeo.



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