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Patient Input Can Change Care for Advanced Bladder Cancer

December 02, 2022

Understanding that patient input is vital to improving care for advanced bladder cancer, one Hartford HealthCare doctor is launching research into how better to collect feedback, track disease progression and recommend alternative treatment if needed.

Anoop Meraney, MD, a urologic oncologist with the Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute and the Cancer Institute at Hartford Hospital, will use a $150,000 grant from Pfizer and EMDO Serono, part of Merck. Both are pharmaceutical corporations, while the research is being overseen by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Oncology Research Program.

One of six projects funded, Dr. Meraney’s is entitled “Use of Patient-Provided Data to Improve Care for Advanced Bladder Cancer Patients.”

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Data driven

In most cases, advanced bladder cancer is incurable and cannot be surgically addressed, Dr. Meraney explained. That, he added, makes prolonging these patients’ lives while maintaining quality of life even more important.

We have improved care and, therefore, need to be more proactive in getting input from the patients when they’re not feeling well,” Dr. Meraney explained. “That’s one way we can be more nimble with the new treatments and tests that are now available.”

Through his project, he plans to tap the Cancer Institute’s nurse navigators who form close bonds with the patients along their cancer journey. The navigators will be able to ask direct questions of the patients and then update the medical records with their findings and insight. They can also work with the providers to craft a better organized, more cohesive approach to patient care, Dr. Meraney said.

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Regular meetings

Another plan for the research, which is funded for two years, will be to create a dedicated advanced bladder cancer tumor board that meets regularly and assesses all patients presenting with advanced bladder cancer. Tumor boards, which currently exist for other types of cancer including urologic, gather medical experts from various disciplines to review patient cases and determine the best course of action for each.

“The work is going to be organizational in a way, technologic in a way, as we create a more seamless way to communicate with our patients and capture data,” Dr. Meraney said of the research. “It’s a pretty complex quality improvement project.”

Not candidates for surgery

“In men, bladder cancer is the fifth most common solid organ malignancy,” he said, adding that there were 81,180 new cases in 2021 and 61,700 were in men. There were also 17,100 deaths from the disease the same year.

Advanced bladder cancer is typically not an operable form of the disease, Dr. Meraney said.

“We focus on medical treatment to improve the patient’s survivability and quality of life,” he said.