Background: Loss of appetite and nausea can reduce the quality of life of patients with malignant melanoma and liver metastases. Often established antiemetic drugs fail to bring relief. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, Marinol), which is the active agent of Indian hemp, has been used successfully in this situation for other malignant tumors.
Patients and methods: We treated 7 patients with hematogenous metastatic melanoma and liver metastases suffering from extensive loss of appetite and nausea supportively with dronabinol (Marinol. All of these patients had previously received standard antiemetic therapy without adequate relief. Dronabinol is a synthetic Delta-tetrahydrocannabinol. The drug was administered in capsule form. We evaluated the palliative effects of dronabinol with a special patient evaluation form, which was filled out at the beginning of the therapy and again after 4 weeks.
Results: The majority of patients described a significant increase in appetite and decrease in nausea. These effects remained for some weeks, but then decreased as metastases progressed and the general condition worsened. All of the patients experienced slight to moderate dizziness, but it was not sufficiently troubling to cause interruption or termination of therapy.
Conclusion: Loss of appetite and nausea due to liver metastases of malignant melanoma can be treated in individual cases supportively with Dronabinol.