Bladder Cancer Intravesical Therapies: Immunotherapy

An effective treatment for low-stage, superficial bladder cancer is the immunotherapeutic agent bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), which doctors deliver through a catheter directly to the bladder (intravesically). Once in the bladder, BCG appears to stimulate an immune reaction against the tumor cells. BCG prevents recurrence in up to two-thirds of cases of superficial bladder cancer.

Doctors at Columbia Urology are participating in a nationwide trial of another immunotherapeutic approach, gene therapy, for bladder cancer. In patients whose disease has not responded to BCG, doctors infuse a modified virus into the bladder. The virus inserts a gene into the bladder cancer cells for an immune-system hormone called GM-CSF. The infected cells should produce GM-CSF, which in turn may start an immune-system attack on the cancer.