The combination of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can significantly extend patients’ survival time with aggressive brain tumors – an invaluable medical insight for all those affected.
Recurrent glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are aggressive tumors in which patients have little chance of survival and in which most people die within the first year of diagnosis. The gliomas arise from glial cells, the nutrient, and supporting tissue of the nerve cells. These are usually diagnosed in the brain, but in some cases also in the spinal cord. Glioblastoma multiforme is by far the most common type of glioma and is one of the most common and aggressive primary brain tumors. Only 28.4 percent of patients survive the first year, and only 3.4 percent of those affected live until the fifth year.
So far, glioblastoma multiforme have been treated as radically as possible – if this is possible due to the tumor’s position. In the first step, the affected tissue is removed, and the tumor region is then irradiated to kill any remaining cells of cancer. At the same time, the patient receives chemotherapy with temozolomide, an intravenous alkylating cytostatic drug. Unfortunately, despite the operation, the chances of survival are not very high.
Complementary therapy with CBD and THC
CBD and THC are terms that are now very well-known and widespread. In recent years, CBD has become known primarily through CBD oil, an extract from the useful plant Cannabis Sativa. Above all, it has an anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic effect. THC, on the other hand, is known as the psychoactive substance of the hemp plant. As researchers have now found out, combining both substances can significantly increase survival time in patients with a glioblastoma multiforme.
In a study with patients with recurrent GBM, in which the control group received a placebo and the other half were treated with a combination of CBD and THC, the subjects had a significantly better annual chance of survival.
Of the patients treated with CBD and THC, 83 percent survived the first year. In the control group, it was only 53 percent. On average, the treated patients survived 550 days, the test subjects without additional CBD and THC treatment 369 days.
Although the treatment was usually well-tolerated, two patients for each group discontinued therapy because of undesirable side effects. Side effects (including in the placebo group) included vomiting, dizziness, nausea, headache, and constipation.
Glioma treatment in the future with CBD and THC?
“The results from this controlled clinical trial suggest that adding a combination of CBD and THC to patients taking high-dose temozolomide improves the chances of survival in comparison to placebo,” explains study director Susan Kurz, professor of Neuro-Oncology at the Leeds Institute for Pathology and Cancer. “This could offer a unique and potentially synergistic effect in terms of glioma treatment in the future.”