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November 12, 1982

Answer is still out regarding BCG's possible anticancer role

JAMA. 1982;248(18):2209-2210. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330180003001

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Bacillus of Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine's possible role in the prophylaxis of some cancers is no less controversial than its longtime use in the attempt to prevent tuberculosis.

The most recent forum to address the BCG-againstcancer question was the Seventh Chicago Cancer Symposium, sponsored by the Institute for Tuberculosis Research (ITR) of the University of Illinois at Chicago, the International BCG Committee, and the Illinois Cancer Council.

The attenuated (BCG) strain of Mycobacterium bovis prepared by French scientists Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin first was administered to a human in Paris in May 1921. But controversy developed after that as a series of studies over the years produced varying results, indicating that BCG's protective efficacy against tuberculosis was not always great. Contamination of the vaccine with the virulent Kiel strain of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a German laboratory caused 72 deaths in Lübeck in 1930, further adding to the debate (Semin Oncol