Bacillus Calmette Guérin

Other Names: Tice®

About This Drug

(BCG) is used to treat bladder cancer. It is given into the bladder (intravesical). 

Possible Side Effects

  • Effects on the bladder. This drug may cause irritation and bleeding in the bladder. You may have blood in your urine. These effects usually appear 4-6 hours after your treatment and may last 24-72 hours. 
  • Pain or burning when you pass urine
  • Feeling like you have to pass urine often
  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and fatigue (low energy, feeling weak)

Note: Each of the side effects above was reported in 20% or greater of patients treated with bacillus calmette-guerin (BCG). Not all possible side effects are included above. 

Warning and Precautions

  • Because this drug is a type of bacteria, severe infections can happen. On rare occasions, these infections may be life-threatening.
  • Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis are rare but may happen in some patients. Signs of allergic reaction to this drug may be swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way. If this happens, do not take another dose of this drug. You should get urgent medical treatment.

Important Information

  • It is recommended to urinate in a seated position in order to avoid splashing of urine.
  • For 6 hours after your treatment, it is recommended that you put an amount of bleach equal to the amount of urine in your toilet and let it sit for 15 minutes before flushing in order to disinfect your urine.
  • Drink plenty of fluids after your treatment to flush your bladder; you may have some burning with the first urine after your treatment.
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom, your caretakers should not handle your urine with bare hands and should wear latex gloves.
  • This drug may also be present in the saliva, tears, sweat, stool, vomit, semen, and vaginal secretions. Talk to your doctor and/or your nurse about the necessary precautions to take during this time.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended).

Food and Drug Interactions

  • There are no known interactions of BCG with food.
  • This drug may interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety and use of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often not known. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if you have any of these symptoms and/or any new or unusual symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Flu-like symptoms such as headache, muscle and joint aches, and fatigue (low energy, feeling weak)
  • Cough
  • Pain when passing urine; blood in urine
  • General discomfort or a feeling of being unwell (malaise)
  • Decreased urine or difficulty urinating
  • Signs of allergic reaction: swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way
  • If you think you may be pregnant or may have impregnated your partner

Reproduction Warnings

  • Pregnancy warning: It is not known if this drug may harm an unborn child.  For this reason, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while receiving this drug. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant or may have impregnated your partner.
  • Breastfeeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breast feeding baby.
  • Fertility: Human fertility studies have not been done with this drug. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking. 

Revised November 2017

 This information is intended to provide helpful health information to the general public and is not to be used in place of any medical, health, psychological, or any other kind of personal professional services.  The information herein does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, or interactions of the medicines mentioned, nor is the information intended as medical advice for individual problems or for making an evaluation as to the risks and benefits of taking a particular medication.  The dose, method of administration and contraindications for any administered medication should be confirmed before use.  UPMC specifically disclaims all responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, which is incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any medication mentioned herein.