Substance Abuse And Cancer Treatment

On the one hand, NARCOTIC and psychoactive drugs have an important role in cancer treatment. Cancer patients have used Cannabis sativa (marijuana) to reduce the nausea associated with chemotherapy. LSD has been used in treating psychological disturbances associated with cancer. Although it was once feared that cancer patients would become addicted to opioids given for pain control, a recent study showed that of 11,882 cancer patients with no prior substance abuse history, only four became addicts after treatment with opioids.

On the other hand, preexisting abuse of these same substances complicates cancer treatment. A history of substance abuse may shorten a cancer patient s life expectancy and undermine the effectiveness of palliative care. Ongoing substance abuse disrupts the patient s relationships with physicians and other caregivers. As of 2000, the National Cancer Institute has issued guidelines for the clinical management of cancer patients with substance abuse histories. These guidelines include evaluation and treatment of comorbid psychiatric disorders, evaluation of the patient's tolerance of drugs, and monitoring of hospital inpatients.

(SEE ALSO: Complications: Immunologic)


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