BCG treatment for bladder cancer is one of the treatment modalities used to treat this malignant disease. Normally, BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccine is used in prevention of tuberculosis. Still, it has proven to be very effective if given to patients suffering from early stage of certain cancers. In this purpose the vaccine is given directly into the organ affected by the cancer. BCG is considered as one type of immunotherapy. It stimulates the body and its immune system to attack and kill cancer cells.
The doctors cannot explain how exactly this vaccine works in patients who have bladder cancer. Even though the mechanism is not clear enough patients can be very satisfied since this vaccine provides with satisfactory effects if applied in early stage of the disease.
BCG Treatment for Bladder Cancer
It is believed that BCG vaccine triggers the immune response in order to fight against cancer cells. Additionally, some doctors consider that the vaccine increases inflammatory response to the cancer and this way the cancer cells are destroyed.
There is a specific dose of the vaccine which is given to patients suffering from bladder cancer. It is administered in stage 0 and 1 of this malignant disease. It can be also given in order to prevent recurrence of the disease. Some doctors believe it is best to apply BCG after surgical removal of the tumor. The bladder cancer in early stage of the disease is removed transurethrally.
BCG for bladder cancer is obtained from attenuated form of bovine tuberculosis bacteria. It is administered in an empty bladder. Prior application of the vaccine the patient is inserted urinary catheter. The medication is supposed to be in contact with the bladder walls for at least two hours. This is why patients should not urinate two hours after the treatment. During these two hours patients are recommended to lie down and change position from time to time to allow contact of the medication with all parts of the bladder. Initially the vaccine is administered once a week, then every three to six months for a period of two years.
Side Effects of BCG Treatment for Bladder Cancer
All the side effects of BCG are minimal and short-termed. BCG is only a stimulant of the immune system and it does not enter the blood stream. This is why comparing to the chemotherapy BCG does not cause serious side effects. Mild side effects include skin rash, irritation if the bladder and lethargy. These side effects withdraw within three days.
There are usually no serious side effects. However in case that the patient develops infection, flu like symptoms and problems with urinary tract such as incontinence, blood in urine and similar after the treatment s/he is due to report these symptoms to the doctor immediately. And in rather rare cases there is a chance of inflammation of lung tissue, hepatitis, and low blood cells count.