Neuroblastoma – Medical Marijuana Research Overview

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Neuroblastoma – Medical Marijuana Research Overview

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Neuroblastoma is the most common cancer found in infants under 1 year old. Studies have shown cannabis limits the growth of neuroblastomas and encourages cancer cell death.

Overview of Neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that primarily affects infants and young children. The cancer starts in very early forms of nerve cells of the sympathetic nervous system of an embryo or fetus. Tumors develop when normal fetal neuroblasts fail to become mature nerve cells or adrenal medulla cells and instead continue to grow and divide.

While neuroblastomas can develop anywhere along the sympathetic nervous system, they primarily start in the adrenal glands, sympathetic nerve ganglia in the abdomen, and the sympathetic ganglia near the spine at the chest or neck. Most neuroblastomas are not inherited, and there are no environmental or lifestyle-related factors known to increase risk.

Neuroblastomas can vary greatly in how they behave. They can grow and spread quickly or grow slowly. Some cancer cells actually die without treatment and the tumors disappear. Most neuroblastomas spread to the lymph nodes before they’re detected. They can also spread to bones.

Children with neuroblastoma may find a large lump or swelling in the abdomen, chest, or neck. Tumors in the abdomen can reduce appetite and make a child feel full or have belly pain. In some cases, the tumor can press against blood and lymph vessels in the abdomen or pelvis, possibly stopping fluids from returning to the heart and causing swelling in the legs. When the tumor is located in the chest, it could press against the superior vena cava and limit blood flow, causing the face, neck, arms and upper chest to swell, or cause the child to become dizzy or develop a headache. When the tumor is in the neck, it could press on the throat or windpipe and affect breathing and swallowing.

Treating neuroblastoma is complex, and tactics vary depending on the stage of the cancer and the child’s age. The types of treatments can include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant, and retinoid therapy.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Neuroblastoma

Recent evidence suggests that two major cannabis compounds, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have anti-cancer Continue Reading


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