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Barliz Waissengrin, Dan Mirelman, Sharon Pelles, Felix Bukstein, Deborah T. Blumenthal, Ido Wolf, Ravit Geva

Published in Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology

February 2021


Background: Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common and dosage-limited oxaliplatin-related toxicity. To date, there are no successful interventions for CIPN prevention or treatment. A therapeutic role for cannabis in diabetic and HIV-related peripheral neuropathy and a protective role in CIPN have been suggested. We examined the effect of cannabis on oncologic patients with CIPN.

Medical records of 768 consecutive patients treated with oxaliplatin and 5-fluorouracil-based combinations at a tertiary medical center from October 2015 to January 2018 were reviewed. Excluded patients were those with pre-existing neuropathy or patients who received fewer than two cycles of oxaliplatin treatment. CIPN grade, oxaliplatin cumulative dose, and neuropathy-free survival were evaluated. The patients were divided based upon the exposure to cannabis: prior to oxaliplatin (cannabis-first), cannabis following the initiation of oxaliplatin treatment (oxaliplatin-first), and no exposure (control).

In total, 513 patients met the inclusion criteria, of whom 248 were treated with cannabis and 265 served as controls. The cannabis-first group included 116 (46.7%) patients and the oxaliplatin-first group included 132 (53.3%) patients. Demographic parameters were comparable between groups. There was a significant difference in CIPN grade 2–3 between cannabis-exposed patients and controls (15.3% and 27.9%, respectively, p < 0.001). The protective effect of cannabis was more pronounced among cannabis-first patients compared to oxaliplatin-first patients (75% and 46.2%, respectively, p < 0.001). The median oxaliplatin cumulative doses were higher in the cannabis-first versus the oxaliplatin-first versus the control groups (545 mg/m2, 340 mg/m2, and 425 mg/m2 respectively, p < 0.001).

The rate of neuropathy was reduced among patients treated with cannabis and oxaliplatin. This reduction was more significant in patients who received cannabis prior to treatment with oxaliplatin, suggesting a protective effect. A large prospective trial is planned.

Open Access


DOI: 10.1177/1758835921990203


Waissengrin, B., Mirelman, D., Pelles, S., Bukstein, F., Blumenthal, D. T., Wolf, I., & Geva, R. (2021). Effect of cannabis on oxaliplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy among oncology patients: a retrospective analysis. Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology, 13, 1758835921990203.