Welcome, this website is intended for all international healthcare professionals in uro-oncology. By clicking the link below you are declaring and confirming that you are a healthcare professional.

You are here

SWOG S0353: Phase II trial of intravesical gemcitabine in patients with nonmuscle invasive bladder cancer and recurrence after 2 prior courses of intravesical bacillus calmette-guerin

J Urol. 2013 Oct;190(4):1200-4.

J Urol. 2013 Oct;190(4):1200-4.


Prior phase II studies of intravesical gemcitabine have shown it to be active and well tolerated, but durable responses in patients with nonmuscle invasive bladder cancer who have experienced recurrence after bacillus Calmette-Guérin treatment are uncommon. We performed a multi-institutional phase II study within the SWOG (Southwest Oncology Group) cooperative group to evaluate the potential role of gemcitabine induction plus maintenance therapy in this setting.

Eligible patients had recurrent nonmuscle invasive bladder cancer, stage Tis (carcinoma in situ), T1, Ta high grade or multifocal Ta low grade after at least 2 prior courses of bacillus Calmette-Guérin. Patients were treated with 2 gm gemcitabine in 100 cc normal saline intravesically weekly × 6 and then monthly to 12 months. Cystoscopy and cytology were performed every 3 months, with biopsy at 3 months and then as clinically indicated. Initial complete response was defined as negative cystoscopy, cytology and biopsy at 3 months.

A total of 58 patients were enrolled in the study and 47 were evaluable for response. Median patient age was 70 years (range 50 to 88). Of the evaluable patients 42 (89%) had high risk disease, including high grade Ta in 12 (26%), high grade T1 in 2 (4%) and carcinoma in situ in 28 (60%) with or without papillary lesions. At the initial 3-month evaluation 47% of patients were free of disease. At 1 year disease had not recurred in 28% of the 47 patients, all except 2 from the high risk group, and at 2 years disease had not recurred in 21%.

Intravesical gemcitabine has activity in high risk nonmuscle invasive bladder cancer and offers an option for patients with recurrence after bacillus Calmette-Guérin who are not suitable for cystectomy. However, less than 30% of patients had a durable response at 12 months even with maintenance therapy.

Copyright © 2013 American Urological Association Education and Research, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Comment from Maria Ribal: Treatment for patients with high risk non muscle invasive bladder cancer who experienced recurrence after BCG is a controversial issue. Radical cystectomy must be offered but patients are not always fit enough to be submitted to radical treatment. New agents are being explored as alternative for unfit patients.