Categorized | Bladder Cancer

BCG Treatment for Bladder Cancer

Bacillus Calmette-Guerin or BCG is used as a vaccine against tuberculosis.  In addition, it is also used as a treatment for bladder cancer.

BCG therapy is often used after the cancer has been removed through bladder surgery to prevent a recurrence. It is also used to treat the early stages of superficial bladder cancer that do not require surgery.

There are two separate theories as to how BCG is able to treat bladder cancer. The first is that the immune response that BCG is able to generate in the bladder also activates the immune system against cancer cells. The other theory is that the inflammation caused by a BCG infection is also toxic against cancer cells. Regardless, BCG has been shown to be an effective therapy against bladder cancer.

It is administered in the doctor’s office and delivered directly into the bladder through a urinary catheter. Patients are required to empty their bladder immediately before treatment and then to not urinate for at least 2 hours. During this 2 hour, the patient will need to change position every 15 minutes so that their entire bladder receives the solution.  The patient is instructed to lie on his back, stomach and each side for 15 minutes at a time.  The treatment is usually given weekly for 6 weeks.

Several hours after the treatment, patients should drink extra fluids to flush the bladder. To disinfect the toilet after the treatment, patients should dilute their urine with household bleach for 6 hours after the treatment.  In order to kill any live BCG bacteria, bleach should be added to the toilet after urinating and allowed to sit for 15 minutes before flushing.

Common side effects of BCG treatment include pain or a burning sensation when urinating, as well as increased frequency and urgency of urination. Patients may also feel fatigue, pain in their joints and mild fever/chills. Other side effects are nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain and loss of appetite. These symptoms are typical of a bladder infection and tend to be fairly mild and disappear after a few days.   BCG may also cause serious side effects like hepatitis, pneumonitis, allergic reaction, lowered white blood cell count, blood in urine, bladder contractions and abscess.

BCG therapy is used with caution in patients with weakened immune systems as well as those receiving treatments that compromise the immune system.

5 Responses to “BCG Treatment for Bladder Cancer”

  1. Dee Courter says:

    Pretty cool article, I learned some stuff I didn’t already know. I just happen across your blog; it’s pretty neat. I’m going to have to check out some of your other posts.

  2. Janet Faerber says:

    I have received the three year program of BCG. Six months after receiving my last treatment, I developed another bladder tumor which was lasered. I am now on my second set of BCG, another three years of treatment. It’s not known if more bladder tumors would have developed without the BCG, so my doctor is still promoting my second set of treatments.

  3. Janet Faerber says:

    Another thought: My brother has developed bladder cancer and had been on BCG. His last treatment left him with a fever of 103 degrees for two weeks. His urologist is taking him off of BCG. I don’t know what will replace it, if anything. We were exposed to second hand smoke while we were growing up. My brother became a heavy smoker himself while I did not and married a non smoker; however, I continued to be exposed to second hand smoke in the work place until about 1990. There is a strong suggestion here, though, that in our case, it is genetic.

  4. Neat article, I always like to read good articles about topics like this, it really makes someone think. Keep the good posts coming. Thanks again for sharing it with us.

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