Case CCC Researchers receive NCI support to assess patient and provider perceptions of cannabis use during treatment

A team of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC) researchers were recently awarded $150,000 by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), as a supplement to the Cancer Center Support Grant, to survey cancer patients and oncology healthcare providers about the use of cannabis products during treatment.

Portrait of Richard T. Lee

Richard T. Lee, MD, the Helen Moss Foundation-Schoff Family Professor of Integrative Oncology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Director of the Supportive and Integrative Oncology Program at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center and member of the Case CCC’s Developmental Therapeutics Program will lead the project. Lee is joined in the assessment by Case CCC experts in survey-based research Jennifer Cullen, PhD, MPH and Erika Trapl, PhD, and physicians Samir Abraksia, MD (South Pointe Hospital Cleveland Clinic) and Michael Harrington, MD (Case Western Reserve University and MetroHealth Cancer Center).

Using an in-person survey and a follow-up phone interview for patients and the team aims to recruit 1,000 participants among five recruitment sites, which will provide diversity in practice types in the Cleveland metropolitan area and of patients from each location. Researchers will assess the prevalence and patterns of cannabis use among patients receiving cancer treatment and intend to describe patients’ perceptions of both the harms and benefits related to such use. They will also study patients’ impressions of communication patterns regarding cannabis use with their cancer team. Additionally, an email questionnaire for oncology healthcare providers will help investigators describe oncology providers’ perceptions, education and self-described practice patterns, including communication, about cannabis use with their patients.

Indicating that peer-reviewed literature regarding medical cannabis is scarce, the team believes the information captured by this project will ground further research into cannabis utilization by patients and facilitate the development of useful clinical communication strategies for healthcare providers relevant to the use of cannabis by cancer patients.