The side effects of BCG that you mentioned....fatigue, low fever, flu-like symptoms, urinary urgency, burning, bleeding.... are the most common. VERY RARELY there are serious effects (have you read the side effects lists of any other drug you are taking? Scary. But they must list them all.)
Another good summary of the procedure
Practically everyone who has BCG treatments has some of the side effects....in fact, this is a good thing because it indicates that your immune system has been "kicked up" and is fighting the cancer. If the symptoms become too uncomfortable, your urologist can reduce the dose even down to 10% of the starting dose. By the time I finished my maintenance series, I was down to 1/3 dose. These reduced doses are just as effective. Usually at first the effects are very minimal, but as your body reacts to the drug (as it is supposed to do) they can increase.
Your urologist will be especially careful NOT to give you a treatment if your bladder is especially irritated or if you have any signs of infection. They always do a urinalysis prior to treatment. You are very unlikely to have any truly serious side effects.
In reality, BCG is very do-able. In the first place it can greatly reduce the chance of recurrence of the bladder cancer. In the second place, it is NOTHING compared to the systemic chemotherapy that some cancer patients endure. I liken it to a dental appointment!
Be very grateful that something like BCG is available.
It can be a life-saver!!!
Good luck to you.
Diagnosis 2-08 Small papillary TCC; CIS
BCG; BCG maintenance
Vice-President, American Bladder Cancer Society
You welcomed me to this site and seem to be adept at using this site, and so I turn to you. I am still having trouble navigating it.
I now have now had a TURB followed immediately by a dose of chemo (mytomycin, I believe).
I am fortunate that the whole tumor (about 4 cm) was completely removed and it proved to be superficial, non-invasive (Ta) but high grade.
I am now scheduled for BCG: 6 treatments at weekly intervals.
I am looking for a clear picture of the side effects of BCG. The literature I find speaks only about fever, flew like symptoms, urgency and burning, but one of the posters on this site spoke of more serious side effects that made him or her stop BCG and start chemo.
I have been told by a local urologist that if you have an infection when the BCG is administered, you will find it gets into your blood stream and you will be very sick.
(I am being treated at a center of excellence in NYC where they list side effects but only give a limited view of what can happen.)
Is there onen place where the side effects are all well laid out, recognizing that not everyone experiences the same thing(s) or in the same degree? Or is there a series of posts on just that topic that share the experiences of a large group?