Difference Between Immunotherapy and Chemotherapy


Recently, immunotherapy has been gaining popularity as a vital form of cancer treatment. Several patients are learning about it and wanting to know how it compares to traditional methods such as chemotherapy. Questions on how to choose between the two also arise. Here, you’ll discover the basic ideas behind each respective option and their differences.

What Is Chemotherapy?

Often referred to as chemo, this treatment uses drugs that kill and attack directly the cancer cells in the patient’s body. The medicine detects rapidly-dividing cells (like those found in fast-growing tumors) and targets them. This can work with surgery, radiotherapy, or immunotherapy or as a stand-alone medical intervention.

What Is Immunotherapy?

This treatment focuses on strengthening a patient’s immune system to a point where it can fight cancer either alone or in combination with other conventional methods. Its goal is to tap and enhance the body’s built-in healing centers so that it can recognize, select, attack, and eliminate the cancerous cells. Some people have been cleared of the disease using this approach, which makes it a promising course of action in case of malignancy.

How Are They Different From Each Other?

Immunotherapy and chemotherapy both work to get rid of cancer cells The following factors highlight their differences:

Side Effects

Chemotherapy is a double-edged sword. The drugs used in this treatment are designed to locate and kill rapidly dividing cells in fast-growing tumors. The problem is, there are healthy parts of the body that also fit this description, such as the hair follicles or stomach lining. That’s the reason why cancer patients throw up during chemo and lose hair after a few cycles.

Meanwhile, immunotherapy can potentially disrupt or overstimulate the immune response, which could lead to severe symptoms.Some of them may become life-threatening.

Length of Treatment

In general, this depends on the type of cancer, the patient’s overall health, and other factors specific to the condition. Chemotherapy can be given only for a few cycles and halted to allow the body to heal from the damaging effects of drugs. Immunotherapy can be continued indefinitely so long as there are no negative reactions recorded.

The Time It Takes to Work

In theory, chemo should shrink tumors and kill cancer cells quickly because it’s designed to target the source of the illness faster. On the other hand, positive effects may take longer to show with immunotherapy because it has to build the immune system back up before any signs of improvement become evident.


Chemotherapy’s effects normally last as long as the drugs can be detected in the body. When they’re gone, the risks of the person getting sick again also go higher. That’s the reason immunotherapy is slowly becoming the preferred treatment plan for several patients. It can provide protection and make long-term remission a possibility. Itdoesn’t give tumors immunity like chemo medicines have been claimed to do as well.

In most medical facilities, chemotherapy and immunotherapy CE are being encouraged to equip oncologists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals with new skills to better manage cancer patients. These activities enable them to learn and understand emerging treatment trends. These allow them to make the necessary recommendations based on the factors mentioned above.

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