Feinstein Institute researcher awarded $3.5M to develop bladder cancer care program

MANHASSET, NY – Feinstein Institute for Medical Research Professor Michael A. Diefenbach, PhD, received a five-year $3.5 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute to develop a post-surgical care program for stage II bladder cancer patients and their caregivers. This is the first study to address the needs of bladder cancer patients and their caregivers with the goal of reducing infections and unplanned nurse/ER visits while improving their quality of life.

Stage II or muscle invasive bladder cancer is a devastating disease, affecting more than 70,000 patients in the United States each year. To keep the disease from spreading, many stage II bladder cancer patients require the bladder to be removed and for the construction of an artificial bladder or reservoir to contain the urine afterward. Preparing for the surgery and planning for recovery is important, but can be challenging for patients and their caregivers as they have to adjust to a potentially lengthy recovery and new care regimens. Dr. Diefenbach’s research study aims to address the information deficit about aftercare surrounding these different bladder procedures and ensure that patients and caregivers have all the tools necessary to bring them back to as normal of an everyday life as possible.

“Care after the removal of the bladder can be challenging for patients because there is a high chance for infection or complications since they’re dealing with the body’s waste,” said Dr. Diefenbach. “I’m thankful for the NIH’s support as our team, together with colleagues from Northwell’s Department of Urology, develop in-person and online educational resources for these patients to bring them back to their everyday lives sooner and to minimize medical complications through appropriate self-care information and actions.”

Dr. Diefenbach’s study will create an in-person pre-treatment education program provided by a nurse or trained health professional for patients and their caregivers. Depending on the course of treatment selected by the patient to replace their removed bladder, the professional will demonstrate the necessary tools and techniques for care of the device. Dr. Diefenbach will develop a recovery website for bladder cancer patients and their caregivers as part of the second phase of the study, which will contain important recovery information, videos about post-surgical care, testimonials by other patients and physicians and other educational resources.

“We commend Dr. Diefenbach and his team to be the first to address post-surgical care for bladder cancer patients and their caregivers,” said Thomas McGinn, MD, MPH, head of the Center for Health Innovations and Outcomes Research at the Feinstein Institute and senior vice president of physician network operations at Northwell Health. “Dr. Diefenbach’s program will be evaluated over the course of 12 months and, if found successful, has the potential to be disseminated throughout the Northwell Health organization. This is an example of how the research we’re conducting here at the Feinstein Institute can have an immediate impact on patient care.”

Feinstein Institute for Medical Research President and CEO Kevin J. Tracey, MD, said, “On behalf of everyone at the Feinstein Institute and Northwell Health, congratulations to Dr. Diefenbach on receiving this grant to pursue breakthrough innovation in treating bladder cancer patients.”

About the Feinstein Institute

The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is the research arm of Northwell Health, the largest healthcare provider in New York. Home to 50 research laboratories and to clinical research throughout dozens of hospitals and outpatient facilities, the Feinstein Institute includes 4,000 researchers and staff who are making breakthroughs in molecular medicine, genetics, oncology, brain research, mental health, autoimmunity, and bioelectronic medicine – a new field of science that has the potential to revolutionize medicine. For more information about how we empower imagination and pioneer discovery, visit FeinsteinInstitute.org.

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