How Effective Is BCG Treatment for Bladder Cancer in Dogs?

Bladder cancer is not a common type of cancer in dogs, but there are a few treatment options. Most often surgery will be recommended, but this is not possible in all cases. The BCG treatment for bladder cancer may be effective in dogs, causing an immune response and making the dog's body more resistant to secondary diseases. Typically, it is administered in conjunction with medication or after surgery to prevent the recurrence of the tumor.

BCG Treatment

The BCG treatment has been initially used as a tuberculosis vaccination. The initials BCG stand for Bacillus Calmette Guerin, which is the tuberculosis bacterium from cows. These bacteria are treated so that they don't have the capacity to cause tuberculosis in canines. The BCG can also be used for bladder cancer in dogs.

How the BCG System Is Administered

The BCG treatment is administered using a catheter that is linked to the bladder. The catheter is meant to activate the immune system and protect the dog from secondary diseases, but may also generate a response against the cancerous cells.

How Effective Is BCG Treatment for Bladder Cancer?

Bladder cancer is a condition that may be fully treated only if surgery is possible and the tumor is in an incipient phase. Even after surgery, the tumor may grow back. If surgery is not possible, due to the fact that the tumor has spread or it is located in an area of the bladder that cannot be operated on, the disease can only be treated with medications. This will not lead to a full recovery, but will slow down the progression of the cancer.

The BCG treatment is applied in addition to medication treatment and is meant to bring out an immune response in the dog. The medication therapy will weaken the immune system and the dog will be more exposed to other diseases. Often, the dog can die due to the secondary diseases sooner than the cancer can develop into metastasis. If immune system support is given, the dog's chances of survival increase.

Another theory claims that the BCG system will be able to fight the cancerous cells and kill these, and may be fully effective in treating superficial bladder cancer or cancer in the first stages of development. Additional studies are required to demonstrate this theory. In any case, the BCG treatment is effective in reducing the chances of bladder cancer recurrence, so it may be applied after bladder cancer surgery.

BCG Side Effects

The BCG catheter can cause urinary or bladder infections and pain when urinating. The dog will also have to urinate following a strict pattern. This is difficult to follow, because you cannot control how and when the dog urinates. Other common side effects of the BCG treatment include:

The dog has to be monitored and antibiotic treatment should be administered if an infection occurs.