Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, or BCG, treatment is usually given once a week for six weeks but can sometimes be part of a longer treatment plan, according to the American Cancer Society. The treatment usually begins two to three weeks after a transurethral resection surgery to remove bladder tumors.
Bacillus Calmette-Guerin treatment is considered the most-effective form of intravesical immunotherapy for the treatment of early stage bladder cancer. It involves the placement of the bacteria BCG into the bladder via catheter where the bacteria activate the body's immune system. Once the immune system is activated, it then attacks the cancerous bladder cells, states the American Cancer Society. The BCG bacteria is a relative of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis but typically does not pose a serious risk. Sometimes patients experience mild side effects such as fever, chills or fatigue, or they may feel an uncomfortable sensation in the bladder.
Rarely, the introduced BCG can spread to the rest of the body and cause infection. One sign that a dangerous infection may have occurred is a high fever that is resistant to treatment with over-the-counter painkillers, and in this case patients should immediately contact their doctors, as recommended by the American Cancer Society.