Neuroblastoma is a rare form of cancer that predominantly affects children, with about 90% of cases diagnosed in children under the age of five. It is often inherited and caused by a mutation in nerve cells called neuroblasts. Symptoms include a painful mass on the neck, stomach pain, decreased appetite, weight loss, and weak legs. Surgery and chemotherapy are common treatments, but medical cannabis has also been found to be beneficial.
A 2016 study published in Current Oncology tested the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) on neuroblastoma cells in culture and found that it had anti-tumor properties. The study states that “our results support its exploitation as an effective anticancer drug in the management of NBL.” CBD has also shown to alleviate nausea from chemotherapy and increase appetite, making it useful for treating anorexia and cachexia.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute confirms that medical cannabis is a highly effective treatment for preventing tumors like neuroblastoma. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their non-transformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death. CBD has also been shown to exert a chemopreventive effect in a mouse model of colon cancer.
Medical cannabis has been used to treat cancer symptoms in children, including Landon Riddle, who was one of the first children to obtain a medical cannabis recommendation for his leukemia. His mother fought officials to use medical cannabis, and Landon was later found to be healed from cancer due to THC and CBD.
In addition to surgery and chemotherapy, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital is creating a new antibody against neuroblastoma cells to destroy all traces of the disease while treating children. Other forms of treatment include radiation therapy and stem cell transplants.
While medical cannabis should not be used as a sole treatment for neuroblastoma or any other form of cancer, it has shown to be a beneficial addition to traditional treatments. The use of medical cannabis for cancer symptoms in children is still controversial and not widely accepted, but stories like Landon Riddle’s show that it could potentially treat and calm cancer. Further research is needed to fully understand the effects of medical cannabis on neuroblastoma and other forms of cancer.