Cancer is the #1 cause of death by disease for American children. Globally, more than 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer annually and each year in the U.S.A., an average of 15,780 children and teens are diagnosed with the devastating disease. Tragically, 20% of them will not survive.
What types of cancer are most common in children?
- Brain tumors
- Central Nervous System (CSN) tumors
There are various forms of treatment for pediatric cancer patients. These treatments will depend on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplant therapy. Alternative treatments include medical marijuana, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and vitamin therapy along with a dietary plan prescribed by a clinical dietician. “Alternative, less toxic treatments warrant the same level of robust research as pharmaceuticals.”
You may have heard of the young boy from Utah, Landon Riddle. Back in 2014, the three-year-old was ridden with tumors and diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), a common cancer of the blood and bone marrow. “It was the absolute most terrifying day of my life,” his mother exclaimed. Soon after, her mother, Landon’s grandmother, discovered cannabis oil and although she had never used or approved of recreational marijuana use, the family was all-in to get Landon started on this organic cancer treatment. They then had to uproot the family and relocate to the only state where it was legal to get medically prescribed cannabis, Colorado. Soon after, his mother blogged that his recovery was nothing short of a miracle, but it really wasn’t a miracle, it was simply medical marijuana that was the gift Landon needed for recovery.
“It is atrocious that anyone on the planet would be charged for choosing cannabis over pharmaceuticals,” said Sierra, Landon’s mother and she went on to suggest, “you’re going to need thick skin, intuition and a solid team. Don’t waste time making sure every other pharmaceutical does more harm than good. If it feels wrong in your gut, it’s probably wrong.”
Chemotherapy kills cancer cells by harming all cells in the body, normal cells then have to recover, leaving the patient weak and lethargic; wasting away. Alternatively, cancer cells self-destruct when exposed to cannabinoids found in medical marijuana, such as THC. There are many publications which offer explanations as to the anti-tumoral action of cannabinoids, however in this short video Dr. Erik Johnson provides a simplified explanation. Perhaps the most relevant question facing pediatricians and parents alike is, if medical marijuana kills cancer cells, why isn’t it a fully legalized frontline treatment?
“Although the 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement opposes the medicinal use of marijuana for children outside those products approved by the FDA, it does leave open…the potential role of medical marijuana for children with life-debilitating or life-threatening conditions.” Today, nearly ten years after Landon’s case for cannabis as a cure, a certified physician may recommend treatment of legalized medical marijuana for minors if they obtain their parent or guardian’s consent to this alternative treatment.
Questions will arise surrounding the proper dosage in pediatric care and the majority of pediatricians today may find it risky to oversee cannabis use in their young patients, but as these pediatricians are confronted with the need to save a child from certain death, the subject might become approachable as innovative hemp-derived cannabis is explored and the positive results are documented. “Given some evidence for the potential benefits of medical marijuana, the AAP said it ‘strongly supports research and development of pharmaceutical cannabinoids and supports a review of policies promoting research on the medical use of these compounds.’”
Which states have legalized medical marijuana for pediatric cancer?
Over the past few years, there has been a surge in legalization of both medical marijuana as well as recreational marijuana and many states that have legalized it have also increased access for children suffering with acute or life-threatening illness.
How can a guardian obtain a medical marijuana card for a child?
“I am a pediatrician who takes care of children with serious life-threatening illness, and so I personally in my clinical practice and through my research have encountered a great deal of interest among children with cancer and their families in using medical marijuana both to treat some of the symptoms of cancer and its therapy and potentially also to treat cancer.” Dr. Prasanna Ananth May 27, 2018, Yale Cancer Center.