Other Treatments for Bladder Cancer
by Michael Jubinville, MPH
Biologic therapy uses drugs to help your body fight cancer. It tries to fix, alert, or boost the immune system so it can better find and kill cancer cells. It may be used alone or with other treatments. A common form is called Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG).
BCG is a form of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. A weakened form of it alerts the immune system to kill the bladder cancer cells. A BCG solution is made and placed into the bladder through a tube. This is repeated weekly for 6 weeks. Some people may need a second cycle.
BCG works best on early stage bladder cancer. Although the body's own resources are used, it can still cause problems. The most common are fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms. It can also cause bladder irritation. This can cause problems such as an urgent need to use the bathroom, bleeding, or pain.
In photodynamic therapy (PDT), light-sensitive molecules are injected into the bloodstream. These molecules are taken up by cells all over the body. But, they tend to stay the longest in cancer cells. They are destroyed with a special red laser light. The laser is used with a cystoscope. PDT only works on early stage bladder cancer. PDT may be used alone or with other treatments.
Bladder cancer. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115106/Bladder-cancer. Updated June 26, 2018. Accessed August 2, 2018.
Immunotherapy for bladder cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/bladder-cancer/treating/immunotherapy-for-bladder-cancer.html. Updated May 18, 2017. Accessed August 2, 2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 8/2/2018
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