Chemotherapy vs. Immunotherapy

Choosing Between Chemotherapy & Immunotherapy

When it comes to cancer care, many patients are overwhelmed and emotional about their choices, making their decision even harder. Commonly, chemotherapy and immunotherapy are used to treat many different forms of cancer. While chemotherapy can be more effective in some cases, immunotherapy can be more effective in others. The best course of treatment depends on the individual patient and their particular case of cancer.

Though your doctor will go over your options in extensive detail, here are some important things to know about each treatment.


Chemotherapy drugs work by damaging the DNA of cells, which prevents them from dividing and growing. Cancer cells divide much more quickly than normal cells, so chemotherapy can effectively treat the disease. However, chemotherapy also kills healthy cells that divide quickly. This can lead to side effects such as:

  • Hair loss
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Easy bruising and bleeding
  • Infection
  • Anemia
  • Appetite changes
  • Constipation

Chemotherapy is most commonly used to treat cancers of the blood, such as leukemia and lymphoma. It can also be used to treat solid tumors, like breast cancer, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer.


On the other hand, immunotherapy works by boosting the body's immune system to better fight off cancer cells. This treatment is often associated with fewer side effects than chemotherapy. The most common side effects are:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Chills

Some types of immunotherapy can also cause inflammation in the lungs or liver. Less common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

Are These My Only Options?

You may be wondering: which is better? Are these my only options? The answer may vary from case to case, but in general, chemotherapy is more likely to be effective against solid tumors, while immunotherapy is more effective against blood cancers. Other forms of cancer treatment include:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Targeted therapy
  • Stem cell/bone marrow transplant
  • Hormone therapy

Ultimately, the best course of treatment for each patient will be determined by their doctor based on the specific type and stage of cancer.

World-Class Oncology & Hematology Services in Ridgecrest

Discovering a cancer diagnosis is one of the scariest times in our patients' lives, but our Cancer Center team at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital is dedicated to helping you through the entire process. Choosing the proper cancer care is one of the most critical decisions in your journey. Our team of expert staff is here to support you every step of the way, from your diagnosis to treatment.

For more information on our oncology services, visit our website. For more health tips and news, visit our blog.