BCG (Bacillus Calmette and Gurin)

BCG (Bacillus Calmette and Gurin)

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Bacillus Calmette and Guérin (BCG), used for treating bladder cancer. It contains attenuated mycobacteria which also allows it to be used as a vaccine to prevent Tuberculosis (TB). 

The cancer drug was approved by the FDA in 1990. Treating bladder cancer with the medication works by increasing the number of certain white blood cells building a stronger immune system to attack the cancer cells. It does this by stimulating inflammation reactions in the bladder which brings along the cells of the immune system. When the immune cells come along to the site, it allows them to attack the tumour cells. 

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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BCG is used by providing a flow of medicine into the bladder using a tube or catheter. For the first six weeks, it is given to the patient every week then after the sixth week, it is given once every 3-6 months.

Side effects: difficulty in urinating, bladder irritability, flu-like symptoms, hypertension, urinate frequently, cramps and pain, nausea, fatigue and hematuria (blood in urine) 


Precautions: As the medication is made from strains of attenuated mycobacteria there are potential risks that users should be aware of such as (≤ 1%)

  • Possibility in sepsis as areas like lungs, liver, bone marrow, kidney are put at risk of becoming infected.
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis), decrease in white blood cells (leukopenia), inflammation in the lungs (pneumonitis), urinary obstruction, diarrhea, anaemia 

Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

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