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Home > Wellness Resources > Health Library > Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) for Bladder Cancer
It is not clear how Bacillus
Calmette-Guerin (BCG) works to treat
bladder cancer. It may stimulate an immune response or
cause inflammation of the bladder wall that destroys cancer cells within the
bladder. BCG may be used to treat early-stage cancer, but it is used most commonly to prevent the return
(recurrence) of noninvasive bladder cancer. It is most often used after cancer
has been removed from the bladder using
transurethral resection (TUR) surgery.
BCG is also used in some countries as a vaccine to provide protection
When it is used to treat bladder cancer, BCG is given through a
urinary catheter (intravesically) into the
BCG is used following TUR surgery for
noninvasive bladder cancer in people who are at medium or high risk for
recurrence of cancer. It can also be used following TUR surgery in people who
cannot have a
cystectomy procedure for bladder cancer, but its
usefulness in these cases is limited.
BCG greatly reduces the chance that
cancer will progress after TUR surgery for noninvasive bladder cancer.1
Side effects from BCG may include:
More severe side effects may include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
Research continues to determine the
most effective strain of BCG and the best dosage schedule for the treatment of
bladder cancer. Dosage schedules vary and are determined by your doctor.
If you have major side effects from BCG treatment, you may need more
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Sylvester RJ, et al. (2004). Intravesical Bacillus
Calmette-Guerin reduces the risk of progression in patients with superficial
bladder cancer: A meta-analysis of the published results of randomized clinical
trials. Journal of Urology, 168 (5):
May 2, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
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