Background: Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) instillation is regarded as the most effective bladder-sparing treatment for patients with high-grade T1 tumours and carcinoma in situ (CIS). The major problem with this therapy is the side-effects, making maintenance therapy difficult, even impossible, in a proportion of patients. Thus, alternative schedules and drugs have been proposed.
Objective: To compare BCG to the combination of epirubicin and interferon-alpha2b as adjuvant therapy of T1 tumours.
Design, setting, and participants: This is a Nordic multicenter, prospective, randomised trial in patients with primary T1 G2-G3 bladder cancer. Initial transurethral resection (TUR) was followed by a second-look resection. Patients were randomised to receive either regimen, given as induction for 6 wk followed by maintenance therapy for 2 yr.
Measurements: The drugs were compared with respect to time to recurrence and progression. Also, side-effects were documented.
Results and limitations: A total of 250 patients were randomised. At the primary end point, 62% were disease free in the combination arm as opposed to 73% in the BCG arm (p=0.065). At 24 mo, there was a significant difference in favour of the BCG-treated patients (p=0.012) regarding recurrence, although there was no difference regarding progression. The subgroup analysis showed that the superiority of BCG was mainly in those with concomitant CIS. In a multivariate analysis of association with recurrence/progression status, significant variables for outcome were type of drug, tumour size, multiplicity, status at second-look resection, and grade. A corresponding analysis was performed separately in the two treatment arms. Tumour size was the only significant variable for BCG-treated patients, while multiplicity, status at second-look resection, and grade were significant for patients treated with the combination.
Conclusions: For prophylaxis of recurrence, BCG was more effective than the combination. There were no differences regarding progression and adverse events between the two treatments.