Sara, thank you very much for your quick reply. My cancer was high grade. My doctor who has a wonderful reputation I think painted a grim picture. I know he is covering all his bases but it just made me worried about it. I feel better with your reply.
As you might expect, the answer to your question is "it depends." First, what was your diagnosis exactly? (The pathology report.) Was your cancer low grade or high grade? BCG is not as effective in low grade bladder cancer and is usually used in this case when the tumors return multiple times. In high grade bladder cancer cases, BCG can be live-saving. AND, if it can be tolerated, and for most of us it can be, it is much less debilitating than traditional chemotherapy.
And here comes the complicated part...the "it depends" issue again. BCG is a modified tuberculosis bacterium that was initially developed almost a hundred years ago as a potential anti-tuberculosis vaccination for children. In cases of bladder cancer it is instilled directly into the bladder in the hopes that it will still up the body's immune system to fight the cancer cells. Since you already have an autoimmune disease, which indicates an issue with your body's immune response, this poses some questions. If I were in your position I would schedule a consultation with your rheumatologist about the pros and cons in your particular case.
I just posted a reply to JDRVNJ on this Forum (should be a post just under yours) which described a lot of the side effects. They are not dire!
Best of luck to you
Diagnosis 2-08 Small papillary TCC; CIS
BCG; BCG maintenance
Vice-President, American Bladder Cancer Society
I just went for my second procedure to check for any return of cancer. It was clear but then my doctor asked me if I wanted to be pro-active. He then told me about BCG treatments. He did not paint a very good picture. In fact, rather grim. I am 78 (almost) years old and widowed. All the side affects sounded daunting. I also have sjogrens which is an autoimmune disease and wondering how I would tolerate all this. I am wondering if there is anyone out there that could relate to my situation and help with making a decision.