Does a BCG Treatment Help Alleviate the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?

Injection with the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine can help reduce risk of bladder cancer recurrence, according to Chemocare. Potential side effects include painful or difficult urination, blood in the urine, increased urinary frequency, and flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever and fatigue. Some patients experience bladder infection or irritation. When side effects do occur, they are usually reversible and disappear after completion of treatment. Additionally, doctors can prescribe medications to help manage unpleasant side effects.

Bladder cancer patients receive BCG treatment after removal of the tumor, according to WebMD. The treatment is beneficial 60 percent of the time for patients with superficial bladder cancer. Adminstered as an outpatient procedure, treatment with BCG involves injection of the solution through a catheter directly into the bladder, as described by Chemocare. The solution remains inside the bladder for about two hours before removal. The patient receives these treatments on an outpatient basis weekly or monthly for up to a year.

Scientists believe that BCG works by creating an inflammatory response within the bladder, explains Chemocare. This causes the patient's immune system to send disease-fighting agents that attack the cancer cells. As a result, changes occur in the bladder environment that help to prevent future tumor growth.