BCG - the same as the vaccinations we got as children
BCG placed into the bladder following the diagnosis of bladder cancer has been shown to decrease the rate of tumour recurrence but more importantly, it decreases the rate of tumour progression: ie. it can prevent superficial cancer from turning into a more serious invasive one. It is particularly useful for the treatment of CIS (carcinoma in situ).
BCG is the same as the vaccination many of us got when we were children which was injected into the arm in order to prevent TB. It is actually the TB organism that has had its virulence factors removed. For some reason, when put it into the bladder it induces an immune reaction which can help prevent bladder cancer.
Our nurse will come to your house and place a catheter through the urethra into the bladder before instilling the BCG.
You will be encouraged to try and hold this into your bladder for as long as possible before voiding into the toilet.
In general, this is done once a week for 6 weeks and then depending on your risk factors either 3 or 6 monthly for either 12 or 36 months.
There are some potential risks with BCG treatment. The most common is a feeling of urinary irritation for a day or so and a 24-48h period of flu-like symptoms. Many patients get only minor symptoms if any at all.
The most serious side effect is that the treatment can actually give you TB but this is fortunately extremely rare occurring in less than 1% of patients. If you are unlucky enough to get this you will need to be on anti-TB drugs for some months.
Click here which gives an excellent description of the pros and cons of BCG treatment