“Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) arises from loss-of-function mutations in tumor suppressor patched homologue 1, which normally inhibits smoothened homologue in the sonic hedgehog signaling pathway. Vismodegib, a smoothened homologue inhibitor, is US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for metastatic or locally advanced BCC that has recurred after surgery or for patients who are not candidates for surgery and radiation. Common adverse effects of vismodegib are muscle spasms, alopecia, dysgeusia, nausea, and weight loss. Muscle spasms worsen with duration of drug administration and may lead to drug discontinuation.
We report a case of vismodegib-related muscle spasm that was successfully treated with medical marijuana (MM).
During the first week of vismodegib and radiation, the patient started MM, having heard of its indication in the treatment of muscle cramps. She smoked 3 to 4 joints daily of Trainwreck strain, containing 18.6% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 0.0% cannabidiol (CBD), and 0.0% cannabinol. Her muscle spasms resolved immediately. She continued MM for 3.5 weeks, until the cost of MM became prohibitive. She reported no adverse effects from MM. Complete resolution of muscle spasms was sustained through the remaining 3.5 weeks of vismodegib. Complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, and lactate dehydrogenase level were monitored throughout the study with no significant changes. As of 18 months posttreatment, the patient had a complete clinical response of her BCC.
One marijuana joint contains, on average, 0.66 g of marijuana, although the definition of a joint is highly variable. With any MM formulation, patients should start at a low dose and gradually titrate to effect. Additional studies could confirm safety and efficacy and better specify the optimal cannabinoid subtypes, preparations, and dosages that may be most beneficial for vismodegib-induced muscle spasms.”