Immunotherapy for non-muscle invasive bladder cancer: from the origins of BCG to novel therapies

Samantha Unsworth-White, Mark Kitchen, Rik Bryan

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Supplies of intravesical Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), the first-line treatment for most intermediate- and high-risk non-muscle-invasive bladder cancers (NMIBC), have proven unreliable over the past decade. This review considers the evolution of BCG immunotherapy for NMIBC: from the discovery of the antitumour side effects of tuberculosis and subsequently the BCG vaccine, to recent advances in novel immunotherapeutic agents. We summarize the evidence for alternative options to standard intravesical BCG therapy regimens and describe the potential for immune response manipulating drugs in the treatment of NMIBC. These new agents, including immune checkpoint inhibitors, toll-like receptor agonists and recombinant viral vectors, may provide better options in the management of NMIBC in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-115
Number of pages11
JournalFuture Oncology
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Future Medicine Ltd.


  • BCG
  • Bacillus Calmette-Guérin
  • bladder cancer
  • immunotherapy
  • review
  • Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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