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.
Elsevier, 2010. Vol. 57, no 1, 25-31 p.