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Self-Reported Delta- 8-THC and Delta-9-THC Use by Cancer Treatment Status Among Cancer Patients in South Florida: Differences by Ethnicity, Age and Cancer Treatment Status

Anne-Barbara Ocejo
University of Miami

Co-Authors: Amrit Baral, Denise C Vidot
University of Miami

Background: The evolving landscape of cannabis research in oncology along with the surge in availability of diverse cannabis products has generated increased interest in its use among cancer patients for various medical and non-medical reasons. This growing utilization underscores the need for a comprehensive understanding of usage patterns, cannabinoid dominance, and the demographic factors shaping consumption. This study addresses the critical gap in literature on cannabinoid preference, specifically Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Delta-9-THC by ethnicity among cancer patients in different stages of their cancer treatment.

Methods: This analysis utilized data from a cross-sectional study of adult cancer patients seen at a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center in the last 5 years to assess cannabis use patterns, source, and reasons for use. Descriptive statistics were computed to estimate the self-reported proportions of Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC as dominant cannabinoid in cancer patients’ cannabis by ethnicity and cancer treatment status. Chi-squared/Fisher’s exact tests where appropriate were conducted to compare dominant cannabinoid proportions.

Results: Of the overall sample (N=495) [mean age 45.9 years (SD=15.1)], 63.1% were current cannabis users, 51.8% were male, and 39.4% were Hispanic/LatinX. Cancer treatment statuses for current cannabis users included 15.5% newly diagnosed, 43.8% under treatment, 35.4% completed therapy and following up, and 5.3% not receiving treatment. Among current cannabis users, 16.8% reported Delta-8-THC as their dominant cannabinoid, while only 9.7% indicated Delta-9-THC as their primary cannabinoid in their cannabis. 29.8% of Delta-8-THC users and 36.7% of Delta-9-THC users were Hispanic. The majority of Delta-8-THC users were undergoing treatment (52.6%), followed by those who completed treatment/in follow-up (42.1%), with only 3.2% being newly diagnosed or not receiving treatment. Delta-9-THC users showed no newly diagnosed cases (0.0%), with the majority under treatment (72.7%), followed by those in follow-up (22.7%), and not receiving treatment (4.5%). There was a significant age-related difference in Delta-9-THC usage among current cannabis users: 3.2% among 20-39 years old, 12.7% among 40-59 years old, and 16.7% among ≥60 years old (p=0.02).

Conclusion: Among the 63.1% of current cannabis users, the study reveals Delta-8-THC as the dominant cannabinoid for 16.8% of users surpassing Delta-9-THC at 9.7%. The prevalence of Delta-8-THC underscores the importance of comprehending cannabis utilization among cancer patients and the necessity for personalized treatment. Overall, this study provides valuable educational insight for clinicians, researchers, and policymakers in the ongoing discussion surrounding cannabis use in cancer care.