Article by Gonzo Nieto, Lift News
Trevor Gordon was working as an investment analyst and trader when he received his cancer diagnosis on his wife’s birthday in 2016. The 32-year-old was diagnosed with urachal adenocarcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer with a poor prognosis and no reliably effective treatment. Doctors had found a tumor in his abdomen, about 10 cm in diameter, and three small nodules in his lungs.
The Toronto resident used medical cannabis to offset nausea and pain throughout an intense chemotherapy regimen. After having surgery midway through 2017 to remove the tumor, doctors prescribed opiates to manage the pain. But Gordon’s body developed a dependence to the medication, so he suggested tapering off the opioids and trying cannabis.
“My doctors didn’t seem to take cannabis as a viable, legitimate option,” he said. “Every time I go and talk to them about pain, [opiates] are the only thing they turn to. They know that cannabis is a very helpful medication, but they don’t incorporate it into the care that they’re giving. Physician education is lacking and poses a barrier to better outcomes for patients.”
That could be changing. Health Canada has granted approval to researchers at Tetra Bio-Pharma, a firm bringing cannabinoid-based treatments to market, to carry out a phase three trial to evaluate the effectiveness of smoked cannabis for pain management and quality of life improvement in advanced-stage cancer patients. This is the first time smoked cannabis is being studied in a phase three trial, which is the last stage of clinical research before a treatment option can be approved for medical use. The main site for the study will be Santé Cannabis, a medical cannabis clinic in Montreal, with a number of other sites across the country.
“We’re investigating the most common route of administration of cannabis which has endured over thousands of years,” said Erin Prosk, director of Santé Cannabis. “Smoked or inhaled cannabis is an effective way to treat acute symptoms, for patients to receive rapid relief when they really need it.”