Difference between Immunotherapy and Chemotherapy

Updated on 18 August 2022

Immunotherapy vs Chemotherapy: Similarities and Differences

Chemotherapy and immunotherapy are two different types of therapies used for the treatment of cancer. In these cancer treatments, different types of drugs are used for preventing the growth of cancer cells. Both therapies work in different ways. In this article, we will learn about the similarities and differences between immunotherapy and chemotherapy.

What is Immunotherapy?

Cancer cells are unwanted cells in the body that keep growing rapidly. The immune system destroys the unwanted cells. However, in some patients, the cancer cells escape body immune cells by interacting with them and thereby survive in the body.

In immunotherapy, the drugs will break the interaction between the cancer cells and our body's immune cells. Because of the loss of interaction our immune cells now identify cancer cells as unwanted cells and kill them. The main aim of using immunotherapy for treating cancers is to produce a group of T cells that can attack the cancer cells. 

Immunotherapy drugs are administered via intravenous mode and this therapy has become a popular choice for treating many different kinds of cancers. Different types of immunotherapy drugs are available on the market and the doctor will make a choice depending on the type and stage of cancer in the body. 

In some patients, immunotherapy drugs are given in combination with chemotherapy drugs.

What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is a treatment used for treating cancers in which the drugs will prevent the replication of the cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy works in the following way:

  • It helps in reducing the cancer cells in the body
  • It helps in reducing the spread of cancer cells to the other body parts
  • It also gives relief from the symptoms of cancer

Chemotherapy drugs can be given through different channels. The drugs may be given through the oral route, using an intravenous route, topical application, directly through an artery, or inserted into the fluid present between the brain and the spinal cord. 

Chemotherapy is the most widely used treatment for treating a wide range of cancers. But, chemotherapy drugs can also produce harmful effects on the healthy cells of the body.

Similarities and differences between Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy

There are many similarities between chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Both therapies are used to fight against cancer cells and are useful for treating many types of cancers.

Immunotherapy vs Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy and immunotherapy differ from each other in many ways:




Way of action

In chemotherapy, the drugs prevent the replication of cancer cells in the body.

In immunotherapy, the drugs enable the immune cells to destroy the cancer cells in the body by unmasking them.

Length of action

Chemotherapy works as long as the drugs are administered to the person.

Immunotherapy can work longer even if the treatment has stopped because of the memory of the immune system. 


Chemotherapy drugs act quickly for destroying the cancer cells in the body.

Immunotherapy may take some time to produce an effect on the cancer cells. 

Side effects

Chemotherapy produces side effects because the drugs not only destroy the cancer cells but also affect the healthy body cells.  Chemotherapy can produce side effects such as hair fall, nausea, and mouth ulcers. 

Immunotherapy produces side effects due to overstimulation of the immune system. It can produce side effects such as weakness, diarrhoea and cough etc. 


The cost of chemotherapy is less as compared to immunotherapy. The cost also depends on the type of cancer and stage of cancer. 

The cost of immunotherapy is more than chemotherapy.

Talk to your doctor before choosing cancer treatments

You must consult with your doctor from the Best cancer hospital in Hyderabad before choosing the cancer treatment. The treatment depends on different factors such as your general health, the type of cancer, and the stage of cancer. Your doctor can suggest the best possible treatment depending on these factors. Your doctor can also discuss the way of treatment and the possible outcomes and side effects that you may notice after getting a particular type of cancer treatment.


In conclusion, chemotherapy and immunotherapy are two different types of treatments used for treating different types of cancers. Both types of treatments are effective for treating cancers. 

Your doctor at CARE Hospitals can use one of both types of cancer treatments to treat your cancer depending on different factors such as the type of cancer, size, stage, and general health. Therefore, discuss with your doctor in detail the pros and cons of both types of cancer treatments before choosing one for your treatment.





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