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.Materials and Methods:
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.Results:
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%.Conclusions:
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.