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Pancreatic cancer: Cannabis compound may boost survival

Pancreatic cancer is a type of cancer that unfortunately has some of the lowest survival rates. A new study in mice suggests that one substance could help address this problem: cannabidiol, a naturally occurring cannabis compound.

Share on Pinterest Researchers look to cannabidiol in the hope of improving survival rates for people with pancreatic cancer.

According to data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in the United States, there will be an estimated 55,440 new cases of pancreatic cancer by the end of this year.

Treatments for this type of cancer include surgical resection (the removal of tissue affected by the cancer), as well as chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the prognosis tends to be poor, with only an 8.5 percent survival rate within 5 years from diagnosis, as per the NCI.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in the United Kingdom, and from Curtin University in Bentley and Perth, Australia, have been making efforts to find a way of increasing survival rates for people diagnosed with this type of cancer.

Recently, Prof. Marco Falasca — of QMUL — and colleagues have conducted a study on a mouse model of pancreatic cancer, investigating an intriguing lead. They wanted to see if administering cannabidiol (CBD) — a naturally occurring component of medical cannabis — alongside chemotherapy medication would improve prognosis following treatment.

“The life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients has barely changed in the last 40 years because there are very few, and mostly only palliative care, treatments available,” notes Prof. Falasca.

“Given the [poor] 5-year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer […] the discovery of new treatments and therapeutic strategies is urgently needed,” he stresses.

The research team’s findings are now reported in the journal Oncogene.

Pancreatic cancer has a very poor prognosis for survival, but researchers are looking for ways to improve that. Their secret weapon? A cannabis compound.