O’Donnell MA, Krohn J, DeWOLF WC. Department of Urology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, and Division of Urology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts. J Urol 2001 Oct;166(4):1300-5 PMID: 11547062
PURPOSE: We determined whether combining low dose bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) interferon-alpha2B would be effective for patients in whom previous BCG failed.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 40 patients in whom 1 (19) or more (21) previous induction courses of BCG failed received 6 to 8 weekly treatments of 1/3 dose (27 mg.) BCG plus 50 million units interferon-alpha2B. Additional 3 week miniseries of further decreased BCG (1/10, 1/30 or 1/100) titrated to symptoms without changing the interferon-alpha2B dose were given at 5, 11 and 17 months. In 12 patients a second induction course was given with 1/10 BCG plus 100 million units interferon-alpha2B. There was multifocal disease in 39 patients, previous BCG had failed within 6 months in 34, disease was aggressive (stage T1, grade 3 or carcinoma in situ in 31, there had been 2 or more previous recurrences in 25 and disease history was greater than 4 years in 13.
RESULTS: At a median followup of 30 months 63% and 53% of patients were disease-free at 12 and 24 months, respectively. Patients in whom 2 or more previous BCG courses had failed fared as well as those with 1 failure. Of the 18 failures 14 occurred at the initial cystoscopy evaluation. Of 22 patients initially counseled to undergo cystectomy 12 (55%) are disease-free with a functioning bladder. Combination therapy was well tolerated.
CONCLUSIONS: While longer followup and larger multicenter studies are required to validate these encouraging findings, intravesical low dose BCG plus interferon-alpha2B appears to be effective in many cases of high risk disease previously deemed BCG refractory. However, early failure while on this regimen should be aggressively pursued with more radical treatment options.