Bladder Cancer Awareness Month - May 2016 - Mayo Center for Innovation - Healthcare Design

Improving the Patient Experience Around Bladder Cancer By Building Community

Post Written By Guest Blogger, Siobhan Bulfin, Founder and CEO of Melon Health, a Mayo Techstars++ company

Bladder cancer is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US, with over 75,000 new cases diagnosed in the US annually. Bladder cancer is three times more common in men than women, and 1 in 42 people will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in their lifetime.

Melon Health has joined forces with a group of American and Australasian companies, including Pacific Edge Diagnostics USA, to launch a patient community to support people and their families living with bladder cancer. The site is unique in the way it empowers patients to self-manage their journey, and it’s launch is built around May being Bladder Cancer Awareness month providing support, tools, and information for patients, their families and care-givers.

The online community provides the resources and fellowship often seen on other cancer community sites, but also offers tools for symptom tracking, and reminders. The rising use of the internet in healthcare is nothing new, with “Dr Google” providing a feast of information; but the ability to connect virtually with other patients and medical researchers is something that is a sign of how empowering social connections can be.

Online patient communities are having a significant positive effect on people with cancer; providing a place where patients and their families can find emotional support, social connections and access to trustworthy resources and information. The journey from diagnosis through treatment is often a traumatic and overwhelming one, but thanks to the internet cancer sufferers and their families are now receiving more support than ever, and these days it’s increasingly likely to be from a total stranger living on the other side of the world.

One early user of the community commented, “It’s nice to be part of a community with others who are going through the same ups and downs.”

This is exactly the response we are hoping for.

The major causes of bladder cancer are thought to be tobacco smoking and exposure to occupational chemicals in the rubber, organic dye, metal refining, petrochemical and paint industries. Common symptoms of bladder cancer include burning urine, frequent urination and hematuria (the presence of an abnormally high number of red blood cells in the urine). Hematuria can be macroscopic (visible in the urine) or microscopic (detectable only with dipstick testing or microscopy).

Bladder cancer is treatable if detected early, but it has one of the highest recurrence rates of all cancers and requires regular monitoring.

Just as technological advancements are changing the way bladder cancer is detected and monitored, the site seeks to change the way patients monitor and manage their own treatment and health. The patient-orientated community and tools on the site are beneficial not only for patients, but also for their physicians.

“Together technology and self-empowering health tools will change the way we conquer bladder cancer.”