Nonspecific and selective stimulation of the immune system in the treatment of carcinoma in humans

Can Med Assoc J. 1983 Jun 15;128(12):1385-8, 1422.


The experience of the Toronto General Hospital in the use of nonspecific stimulation of the immune system with bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) for the treatment of cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, malignant melanoma and breast cancer is described. The results are presented in terms of survival curves. The use of BCG administered intraperitoneally in a randomized study of patients with gastric, pancreatic and colorectal cancer proved of no benefit. On the other hand, when BCG was given orally in a randomized study of patients with resectable cancer of the colon and in nonrandomized consecutive studies of patients with malignant melanoma and stage IV carcinoma of the breast survival was increased. In a group of patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer selective stimulation of the immune system with NED 137 produced a significant increase in survival when compared with the survival of historical controls (the patients given BCG intraperitoneally along with 5-fluorouracil for gastrointestinal cancer). The results of these studies suggest the need for a more rational approach in manipulating the immune response that would combine chemotherapy with selective stimulation of the immune system.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • BCG Vaccine / administration & dosage
  • BCG Vaccine / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Random Allocation


  • BCG Vaccine