REAL-TIME BLADDER MONITOR
It can be quite burdensome for a person with an overactive bladder or bladder-leakage problem to endure the diagnostic process. He has to come to the clinic, get undressed in an unnatural environment, empty the bladder, get a catheter, refill the bladder with room temp water, urinate… The whole experience causes embarrassment, anxiety, and discomfort for the patient. Furthermore, it’s not a natural situation and really doesn’t allow us to accurately assess what happens in the real world— when the person is exercising, or out running errands.
I’m enthused about the new UroMonitor which we are developing. It’s like a Fitbit for the bladder. It requires a simple insertion, and then we get real-time, real-world data that tells us what is happening in the patient’s bladder. And he doesn’t even have to come to Cleveland Clinic. He can have the monitor inserted locally, then do a virtual consult with an expert here. It has the potential to help tens of millions of people who are affected by bladder issues.
400,000 MEN COULD AVOID BIOPSY
Another thing I’m excited about is a new blood test for prostate cancer screening we’re developing. I have to disclose it’s being formulated by Cleveland Diagnostics, which Cleveland Clinic owns part of, within which I have no personal financial stake.
We know that the current screening for prostate cancer, which has been around for decades, is far from perfect. It results in a large number of false positives, which lead to prostate biopsies. It also leads to over-detection of low-grade cancers that we’d rather not know about because most of them don’t need to be treated.
This new blood test is far better at determining who might have a higher-grade cancer that does need treatment. We have studied this and validated our findings in a second study, and we’re just about to publish our findings in medical journals. It’s very exciting.
There are about 1 million biopsies every year—and this blood test could eliminate the need for 40 percent of them. That’s 400,000 men who won’t need to go through this uncomfortable procedure and its associated risks. Instead we’ll have a much better diagnostic test for every man, not just those who come to Cleveland Clinic.
The National Institutes of Health budget has been restricted in recent years. For example, they only fund 8 percent of all cancer research grant requests. In such a restrictive environment, it’s impossible without philanthropic support to do the high-level research that could improve patients’ lives. We must supplement what’s received from government grants, or we simply wouldn’t have enough. A much-needed philanthropic gift we recently received from Healthnetwork and its partners, just opened the scope of what we can do and the number of lives we can affect.
ERIC KLEIN, MD, is chair of the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at Cleveland Clinic, one of Healthnetwork’s GOLD hospitals. Dr. Klein was given a Healthnetwork Service Excellence Award for his outstanding patient care. Cleveland Clinic’s urology program is ranked No. 1 in the specialty.