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Bladder Cancer Immunotherapy

The immune system detects and protects the body from anything it perceives as foreign. This includes viruses, bacteria and even cells that are abnormal because they are cancerous. However, cancer has found ways to evade the immune system. Cancer immunotherapy is designed to help the immune system recognize cancer cells and reactivate specific immune cells to target and attack them.

As a potential side effect, immunotherapy could cause the immune system to attack normal organs and tissue in the body. The most common type of immunotherapy used in bladder cancer is BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin.  There are now a number of new immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting the PD-1 receptor pathway approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for certain people with a type of bladder cancer called locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma. Your doctor can help you determine if you might be a candidate for this treatment option.

Learn more, read these Get the Facts pages that cover what to expect before, during, and after these treatments.

Get the Facts | BCG (PDF)| BCG (Espanol)

Get the Facts | Immunotherapy (English) | Immunoterapia (Espanol)

Peter H. O’Donnell, MD, from The University of Chicago, Section of Hematology/Oncology, explains immunotherapy as a bladder cancer treatment and addresses questions about how immune therapies work.
Thank you to our sponsors, EMD Serono & Pfizer and AstraZeneca for their support.

Watch Questions & Answers about Immunotherapy and Bladder Cancer presented by Dr. Jonathan Rosenberg from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to learn more.


Information and services provided by the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) are for informational purposes only. The information and services are not intended to be substitutes for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, seek professional medical attention immediately! BCAN does not recommend or endorse any specific physicians, treatments, procedures or products even though they may be mentioned on this site.