Immunotherapy provides an effective alternative approach to chemotherapy in the management of superficial bladder cancer. The first widely used immunotherapy, bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), eradicates residual tumour in one half of patients with carcinoma in situ. Unlike chemotherapy, induction of immunity against transitional cell carcinoma has the potential of protecting patients from tumours which have not yet developed. Controlled trials suggest that BCG immunotherapy reduces disease progression, decreases the need for cystectomy and prolongs survival. While the optimal BCG treatment schedule remains unknown and may in fact vary from one patient to another, data clearly suggest that a single 6-week induction course is suboptimal. In 150 randomized patients with CIS treated with 120 mg Connaught BCG, Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) investigators found that just 3 additional weekly treatments at week 12 increased complete response from 70 to 82% (p<0.05). Intravesical BCG is clearly superior to oral BCG, and controlled studies have demonstrated that percutaneous administration is not necessary. While evidence suggests that BCG is the best available treatment for superficial bladder cancer and 95% of patients have no significant toxicity, serious and even fatal toxicity can occur. Sepsis can occur with intravenous absorption and often appears to result from hypersensitivity. Limited clinical and animal model experience suggests that cycloserine improves survival over treatment with isoniazid and rifampicin, but optimal treatment of BCG sepsis is isoniazid 300 mg, rifampicin 600 mg, and prednisolone 40 mg daily.

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