Treatment Strategy for Newly Diagnosed T1 High-grade Bladder Urothelial Carcinoma

High-grade T1 (T1HG) bladder cancer (BCa) has a very high likelihood of disease recurrence and progression to muscle invasion. Radical cystectomy is considered the best chance at cure, albeit with a high risk of morbidity, and is overtreatment for some patients. Treatment with bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) allows bladder preservation but may risk disease progression.


To systematically review the current literature on the management of T1HG BCa and provide updated treatment recommendations.

Evidence acquisition

Medline, EMBASE, and Epub Ahead of Print databases were searched in November 2017 to identify observational cohort studies and controlled trials, between 1946 and 2017, associated with diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of T1HG BCa.

Evidence synthesis

Clinical understaging and/or persistence of disease is not uncommon at initial transurethral resection (TUR); thus, a second re-TUR is recommended for cases with T1HG BCa. Patients electing a bladder preservation approach should undergo induction BCG therapy followed by a maintenance schedule, while patients with several high-risk features should consider immediate cystectomy and those with BCG-refractory or BCG-unresponsive disease should be considered for early cystectomy. Current phase I/II clinical trials for T1HG patients may offer future bladder preservation therapy approaches.


T1HG tumours are heterogeneous in nature and challenging to treat. Bladder preservation with BCG induction and maintenance, or radical cystectomy is the current standard treatment modality of choice for these tumours. Promising therapies for BCG-unresponsive disease are currently under investigation.

Patient summary

Patients with high-grade T1 bladder cancer are at a high risk of tumour recurrence and progression, requiring more aggressive treatment such as bladder removal. Bladder preservation therapies are available (and new therapies are being tested in clinical trials); however, patients should be aware that currently bladder removal is considered the best opportunity for cancer cure.

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