Cannabis may be an alternative to opioid pain relievers for people with cancer-related pain, according to a recent study. Pain is among the leading reasons for reduced quality of life among people undergoing cancer treatment. Many patients are interested in trying medical cannabis, but research on its benefits remains limited.

Gil Bar-Sela, MD, of Ha’Emek Medical Center in Israel, and colleagues recruited oncologists who were able to issue medical cannabis licenses to their patients. The patients completed anonymous questionnaires about pain and other symptoms and side effects before starting cannabis and again at several points during the next six months.

The researchers found that pain measures improved significantly, and other cancer-related symptoms also decreased. What’s more, patients were able to reduce their use of other painkillers. In fact, nearly half stopped all pain medications after using cannabis for six months.