Objectives: This phase II study was designed to assess the response rate, side effects and long-term efficacy of BCG in the treatment of carcinoma in situ (Cis) of the urinary bladder.
Methods: 103 eligible patients with Cis were treated with 6 consecutive weekly intravesical instillations of 120 mg BCG-Connaught. In case of no response, a second 6-week course was given.
Results: A complete response (CR) was observed in 77 of the 103 eligible patients (75%) and 93 evaluable patients (83%). In 6 of 10 patients the CR was induced by a second cycle of 6 weekly instillations. After a median follow-up of 7.6 years, 39 of the 77 CR patients (50%) are still alive and have retained their bladder, 31 (40%) without tumor recurrence. Another 7 patients underwent cystectomy and are still alive while 16 (20%) have died due to bladder cancer. Ten patients stopped treatment due to toxicity. In 2 patients, cystectomy was done because of severe cystitis and reduced bladder capacity. Drug cystitis, bacterial cystitis and fever occurred in 45, 15 and 15% of the patients, respectively. Severe drug cystitis was noted in 3 out of 10 patients receiving more than 6 instillations, necessitating cystectomy in 1 case.
Conclusion: Intravesical short-term BCG is an effective treatment modality in Cis, yielding a high CR rate. This therapy may however be suboptimal in some patients as the 5-year disease-free rate in complete responders drops to 60%. Still, this is an acceptable result for patients in whom cystectomy would otherwise be performed in virtually all cases.