OBJECTIVE • To investigate the risk of subsequent tumour recurrence and stage progression in bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG)-relapsing non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer, defined as recurrence after achieving a disease-free status for 6 months. PATIENTS AND METHODS • A total of 183 patients with BCGrelapsing tumours were treated with conservative therapy between 1985 and 2008 at our three institutions. • We analysed the association between their clinicopathological parameters and subsequent tumour recurrence or stage progression. RESULTS • Additional induction courses of BCG or anticancer drug (mitomycin C or epirubicin) instillations were performed in 119 patients and 24 patients, respectively. The remaining 40 patients did not undergo any adjuvant therapy. • Multivariate analysis showed that a relapsing tumour with a pathologically high risk (defined as tumours with G3 and/or pT1 and/or concomitant carcinoma in situ ) was a significant risk factor for subsequent tumour recurrence ( P = 0.002; hazard ratio [ HR ] 2.15). Additional BCG instillation significantly decreased the subsequent tumour recurrence rate ( P < 0.001; HR 0.41). • Multivariate analysis also showed that a relapsing tumour with a pathologically high risk was also significantly associated with stage progression ( P < 0.001; HR 8.05). CONCLUSIONS • An additional course of BCG instillation might be effective in patients with BCG-relapsing tumours with pathologically intermediate risk. • Nevertheless, some patients with high-risk pathological features developed subsequent stage progression. Such patients should be followed up closely and counselled on the need for aggressive therapeutic options, such as radical cystectomy.
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