Association Between Number of Endoscopic Resections and Utilization of Bacillus Calmette-Guérin Therapy for Patients With High-Grade, Non–Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer

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Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is an effective yet underutilized treatment for high-grade, non–muscle-invasive bladder cancer. We evaluated the patterns of BCG utilization with respect to number of endoscopic resections in a Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked database and found that BCG adoption is slow and incomplete. Methods to improve compliance with this therapy are warranted.


Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is the reference standard treatment for patients with high-grade, non–muscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). We previously described noncompliance with guidelines for BCG use in patients with high-risk disease. In the current study, we sought to characterize how the number of endoscopic resections of bladder tumors affects BCG utilization using population-level data.

Patients and Methods:

We queried a Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER)-Medicare linked database to evaluate claims records of 4776 patients diagnosed with high-grade NMIBC between 1992 and 2002 and followed until 2007, who survived for at least 2 years and who did not undergo definitive treatment with cystectomy, radiotherapy, or systemic chemotherapy. We stratified patients on the basis of the number of endoscopic resections of bladder tumors. We used chi-square analysis to compare number of resections to BCG utilization and multinomial logistic regression analysis to quantify BCG utilization by patient and tumor characteristics.


Utilization of BCG increases with increasing endoscopic resections from 40% at diagnosis to 72% after 6 resections. The cumulative rate of at least an induction course of BCG plateaus after 3 resections. Lower BCG utilization was associated with advanced age (≥ 80 years), while increased utilization was associated with being married, higher disease stage (Tis and T1) and grade (undifferentiated), and increasing endoscopic resections.


A significant fraction of patients with NMIBC do not receive induction BCG despite its proven benefit in minimizing recurrences. Most patients receive BCG only after multiple endoscopic resections. Strategies focused on earlier adoption of BCG to prevent recurrences instead of reacting to recurrences may limit progression and improve survival.

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