Pharmacological evidence of medicinal cannabis in oncology: a systematic review



This systematic literature review examines research into the use of medicinal cannabis in cancer management. The aim was to identify the gaps in knowledge on the dose, dosing schedule and absorption of the administration routes of medicinal cannabis use in oncology.


A comprehensive search of the literature was conducted across six databases to identify original data reporting the pharmacology of medicinal cannabis in oncology.


Eighteen articles were selected for review. Of the selected articles, ten were identified as randomised control trials, two experimental studies, two retrospective cohort studies and four case studies. Four articles reported absorption data and one drug interaction study was identified.


There is little evidence reported in the literature on the absorption of medicinal cannabis in cancer populations. Various reasons are explored for the lack of pharmacokinetic studies for medicinal cannabis in cancer populations, including the availability of assays to accurately assess cannabinoid levels, lack of clinical biomarkers and patient enrolment for pharmacokinetic studies.

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This research was supported by FIT-BioCeuticals Ltd. and Endeavour College of Natural Health, Australia.

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Correspondence to Danielle Brown.

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The first author is a recipient of tuition scholarship for Honours candidature (Endeavour College of Natural Health, Australia) from FIT-BioCeuticals Ltd. The authors have full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.

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Brown, D., Watson, M. & Schloss, J. Pharmacological evidence of medicinal cannabis in oncology: a systematic review. Support Care Cancer 27, 3195–3207 (2019).

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  • Medicinal cannabis
  • Cannabinoids
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer
  • Oncology
  • Integrative medicine