Treatment of Bladder Cancer with BCG
BCG is a preparation of a particular type of bacteria which has been weakened so that it can be used to help fight against bladder cancer. The exact way BCG works is unknown. It has been suggested that it promotes a local inflammatory reaction in the bladder and that it also stimulates the immune system, which is the body’s defence against disease.
BCG Treatment and Results
BCG is given once a week for 6 weeks. In some cases it may be necessary to have additional treatment, to get a better effect. This is only after consultation with your doctor, following repeat cystoscopy 6-8 weeks after completion of the treatment.
Before BCG Treatment
- Please limit fluid intake for 4 hours and if possible avoid taking water tablets (diuretics) prior to treatment.
- Inform your doctor if you have felt feverish, unusually tired, if you have had any chills or seen blood in your urine since the last treatment.
- The genital area will be cleaned with a sterile solution and draped with a sterile sheet.
- A doctor or nurse will catheterise (insert a small flexible tube through your urethra) the bladder to remove residual urine.
During BCG Treatment
The BCG suspension is introduced into the bladder by means of the catheter. The treatment takes a few minutes, after which (in most cases) the catheter is removed and you may go home.
BCG should be held in the bladder for 2 hours. During the first 15 minutes you should lie on your back. It is recommended that you roll on 4 sides (back, left side, stomach and right side) for 15 minute intervals during the 2 hour period.
After BCG Treatment
After 2 hours, you should drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to flush the bladder.
Each time you empty your bladder during the first 6 hours after treatment the following procedure should be followed:
- Empty your bladder by sitting down on a toilet.
- Disinfect the urine in the toilet with an equal volume of undiluted household bleach and allow to stand for 15 minutes before flushing toilet.
Check with your doctor if:
- There is a significant and persistent increase in existing urinary symptoms (such as frequency of emptying your bladder or painful urination).
- Any of the following symptoms develop:
Blood in the urine for more than 24 hours
Painful or frequent urination lasting more than 24 hours
Fever and chills
High or persistent fever
Jaundice (yellow skin)
Record whether you noticed any side effect(s) at the end of this leaflet and discuss with your doctor before each treatment.
After treatment, your doctor will want you to come in for checkups periodically to monitor your progress. During these visits be sure to discuss with your doctor anything that you are unsure about, such as:
- Symptoms to expect following treatment
- When you can get back to your normal routines
- What other activities are okay
- What foods you may eat or should avoid
- Whether or not you should climb stairs
- Any other concerns that you may have
IF YOU SMOKE, IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO QUIT. YOUR DOCTOR MAY OFFER SUGGESTIONS TO HELP YOU.
While you are healing, it is important to listen to your body and stop any activity when you feel tired.
Remember too, that there is no such thing as a “silly question” when it comes to your health. Your doctor will be more than happy to answer any questions you have about your condition, treatment and recovery.