Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) Therapy for Bladder Cancer: An Update

Immunotargets Ther. 2020 Feb 13:9:1-11. doi: 10.2147/ITT.S202006. eCollection 2020.


Physicians treating patients affected by nonmuscle-invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC) have been in shock during the last six years since manufacturing restrictions on the production of the first-option medicine, Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), have resulted in worldwide shortages. This shortage of BCG has led to a rethinking of the established treatment guidelines for the rationing of the administration of BCG. Some possible schedule modifications consist of a decrease in the length of maintenance treatment, a reduction in the dose of BCG in intravesical instillations or the use of different BCG substrains. All these strategies have been considered valuable in times of BCG shortage. In addition, the lack of availability of BCG has also led to the general recognition of the need to find new treatment options for these patients so that they are not dependent on a single treatment. Few alternatives are committed to definitively replacing BCG intravesical instillations, but several options are being evaluated to improve its efficacy or to combine it with other chemotherapeutic or immunotherapeutic options that can also improve its effect. In this article, we review the current state of the treatment with BCG in terms of all of the aforementioned aspects.

Keywords: alternative treatment; immunotherapy; mycobacteria; nonmuscle invasive.

Publication types

  • Review