Characterizing intermediate-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer: Implications for the definition of intermediate risk and treatment strategy

Kazuhiro Matsumoto, Eiji Kikuchi, Yoshinori Yanai, Nozomi Hayakawa, Yujiro Ito, Takahiro Maeda, Hirohiko Nagata, Akira Miyajima, Mototsugu Oya

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Purpose: Patients with intermediate-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer have traditionally been defined as those not included in the low- or high-risk groups. Therefore, the intermediate-risk group consists of heterogeneous patients. Materials and methods: We reviewed 326 patients diagnosed with intermediate-risk tumors. We subclassified these patients into 3 groups according to their clinical courses. Group A included patients with initial and multiple low-grade tumors (N = 170). Group B consisted of patients with a low-grade tumor that recurred after a low-risk tumor (N = 97), and Group C consisted of patients with a low-grade tumor that recurred after a high-risk tumor (N = 59). Results: The 2-year recurrence-free survival rate was significantly lower in Group C (42%) than in Groups A (69%, P<0.01) and B (70%, P<0.01). Regarding progression-free survival, no significant differences were observed among the groups. In total, 167 patients received adjuvant bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), and 39 received adjuvant chemotherapy instillations. In Groups A and B, there were no significant differences in efficiency against tumor recurrence between BCG and chemotherapy. In Group C, the 5-year recurrence-free survival rate was 65% in patients receiving BCG, which was significantly higher when compared with patients receiving chemotherapy (P = 0.01). Furthermore, Group C included 11 BCG refractory cases, 5 of whom later experienced stage progression during follow-up. Conclusion: Our subclassification analysis suggested that intermediate-risk tumors that recurred after a high-risk tumor (Group C) should be treated with adjuvant BCG therapy, owing to the high probability of subsequent recurrence. Furthermore, the definition of intermediate risk may include some BCG refractory cases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalUrologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2015 Aug 24



  • Bacillus Calmette-Guérin
  • BCG
  • Intermediate risk
  • Non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Urology

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