What is the Difference between Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy?

 In Cancer

Every year, millions of people worldwide lose their lives to the disease known as cancer. For those with cancer, choosing the optimal course of treatment is essential. Oncologists frequently employ chemotherapy and immunotherapy, two distinct approaches with different mechanisms. Let’s see what Dr. Ashish Gupta, Chief Oncologist from Unique Hospital Cancer Centre in Delhi, had to say on how immunotherapy and chemotherapy differ from one another.


One popular cancer treatment method is chemotherapy. It functions by concentrating on and preventing the growth of rapidly proliferating cells within the body, such as cancer cells. Usually administered via the bloodstream, this treatment reaches cancer cells throughout the body. Chemotherapy can reduce tumour size and eliminate cancer cells by preventing new cell growth.

Chemotherapy has side effects even though it is effective in treating cancer. Some of these include experiencing hair loss, fatigue, nausea, weakness, and weakened immune system. Chemotherapy is still a crucial part of cancer treatment, despite these negative effects. Physicians frequently utilise it on its own or in conjunction with other therapies.


One sort of treatment that works to combat cancer cells is immunotherapy, which stimulates your immune system. Immunotherapy aids your immune system in identifying and eliminating cancerous cells more effectively than chemotherapy, which targets cancer cells directly. After treatment is over, this strategy may still have an impact.

However, immunotherapy may have some side effects, much like any other kind of medicine. They could include an overactive immune system, which can induce swelling in your body or make you feel like you have the flu. Immunotherapy has great potential to treat a wide range of cancers, including those of the lung, breast, head and neck, colon, skin, liver, and uterus, despite these possible side effects.

When are Immunotherapy and Chemotherapy Given?

In order to treat cancer at various stages of the disease, both immunotherapy and chemotherapy are essential. Neoadjuvant therapy and adjuvant therapy are terms used to describe the administration of these treatments in Stages I–III early-stage cancers, either prior to or following surgery. These therapies are frequently used for palliative purposes to reduce symptoms and enhance quality of life in advanced cases (Stage IV), where surgery may not be possible.

Key Differences and Considerations:

The discovery of biomarkers that assist oncologists in determining whether immunotherapy is a good option for a given patient is one noteworthy development in recent years. Furthermore, the expenses associated with these therapies have decreased, rendering them more accessible to a larger pool of patients. The decision between immunotherapy and chemotherapy ultimately comes down to carefully evaluating each patient’s particular situation and the advice of their medical team.


There isn’t a single treatment that works for everyone when it comes to cancer. As each person’s experience with cancer is unique, it’s critical to consult with your doctors to determine the best course of action. Although they function differently, immunotherapy and chemotherapy are two crucial methods of treating cancer. You can make informed decisions regarding your health by being aware of the distinctions between them and staying current with cancer treatment. Always have faith in your medical professionals, look after yourself, and give cancer every last bit of your strength.

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