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What are the side effects of a BCG treatment for bladder cancer?

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Quick Answer

Common side effects of BCG treatments for bladder cancer include fatigue, joint aches, skin rash, low-grade fever, and burning, painful or frequent urination, explains WebMD. Nausea, vomiting or decreased appetite may also occur. The signs of allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing, hives and facial swelling, require emergency medical care.

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What are the side effects of a BCG treatment for bladder cancer?
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Full Answer

Serious side effects, which include blood in the urine, yellowing of the skin or eyes, easy bruising or bleeding, vision changes and difficulty urinating, may also occur during BCG treatment, notes RxList, and patients should report any severe, persistent or bothersome side effects to a doctor. In rare cases, BCG treatments lead to a serious infection in the body that is characterized by persistent flu-like symptoms and a high fever that does not improve after taking a fever reducer. If this occurs, the American Cancer Society advises patients to seek immediate medical attention.

BCG, or Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, is a bacteria that activates the body's immune system to destroy cancer cells inside the bladder, as the American Cancer Society explains. Doctors often use it to prevent cancer recurrence after tumor removal, but it is sometimes used to treat early stages of bladder cancer, according to WebMD. BCG is instilled directly into the bladder through a urinary catheter, and the typical treatment regimen calls for its application once a week for six weeks.

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