BCG-Unresponsive Non-Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer: Current Treatment Landscape and Novel Emerging Molecular Targets

Francesco Claps, Nicola Pavan, Luca Ongaro, Domenico Tierno, Gabriele Grassi, Carlo Trombetta, Gabriele Tulone, Alchiede Simonato, Riccardo Bartoletti, Laura S. Mertens, Bas W. G. van Rhijn, Maria Carmen Mir, Bruna Scaggiante

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Urothelial carcinoma (UC), the sixth most common cancer in Western countries, includes upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC) and bladder carcinoma (BC) as the most common cancers among UCs (90–95%). BC is the most common cancer and can be a highly heterogeneous disease, including both non-muscle-invasive (NMIBC) and muscle-invasive (MIBC) forms with different oncologic outcomes. Approximately 80% of new BC diagnoses are classified as NMIBC after the initial transurethral resection of the bladder tumor (TURBt). In this setting, intravesical instillation of Bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) is the current standard treatment for intermediate- and high-risk patients. Unfortunately, recurrence occurs in 30% to 40% of patients despite adequate BCG treatment. Radical cystectomy (RC) is currently considered the standard treatment for NMIBC that does not respond to BCG. However, RC is a complex surgical procedure with a recognized high perioperative morbidity that is dependent on the patient, disease behaviors, and surgical factors and is associated with a significant impact on quality of life. Therefore, there is an unmet clinical need for alternative bladder-preserving treatments for patients who desire a bladder-sparing approach or are too frail for major surgery. In this review, we aim to present the strategies in BCG-unresponsive NMIBC, focusing on novel molecular therapeutic targets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12596
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • Bacillus Calmette–Guérin-unresponsive non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer
  • bladder sparing treatment
  • chemo-hyperthermia
  • gene therapy
  • immunotherapy
  • non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer
  • photodynamic therapy

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