Chemotherapy and Your Immune System

Chemotherapy,drug,medical,holding,hypodermic,syringe,needle,injection,iv,bagChemotherapy is a common treatment for cancer that uses powerful drugs to kill cancer cells. While it is effective in targeting and destroying cancer cells, chemotherapy can also have significant effects on the immune system. In this blog post, we will explore how chemotherapy impacts the immune system and discuss strategies to support and strengthen it during treatment.

Understanding the Immune System:

The immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to defend the body against harmful invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. It consists of white blood cells, antibodies, and other components that identify and attack foreign substances.

Effects of Chemotherapy on the Immune System:

1. Reduced white blood cell count: Chemotherapy drugs can suppress bone marrow, where white blood cells are produced. This can lead to a decrease in the number of white blood cells, including neutrophils (a type of white blood cell important for fighting infections), increasing the risk of infections.

2. Weakened immune response: Chemotherapy can affect the overall function and response of the immune system, making it less effective in recognizing and destroying cancer cells or fighting off infections. This can make cancer patients more susceptible to infections, both during and after treatment.

Strategies to Support the Immune System during Chemotherapy:

1. Communication with your healthcare team: It is crucial to have open and honest communication with your healthcare team about any concerns or side effects you experience during chemotherapy. They can provide guidance and support in managing immune-related issues.

2. Hand hygiene and infection prevention: Practicing good hand hygiene, such as regular handwashing with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, can help reduce the risk of infections. It is also advisable to avoid contact with sick individuals and crowded places.

3. Healthy lifestyle choices: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can support the immune system during chemotherapy. This includes eating a nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. It is also important to stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and engage in regular physical activity as tolerated.

4. Vaccinations: Prior to starting chemotherapy, it is essential to discuss vaccinations with your healthcare team. Certain vaccines, such as the flu vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine, can help reduce the risk of infections. However, live vaccines may not be recommended during chemotherapy, so it is crucial to consult your healthcare provider.

5. Neutropenic precautions: Neutropenia is a condition characterized by a low level of neutrophils, which are the most abundant type of white blood cells. To reduce the risk of infections, your healthcare team may advise you to take additional precautions, such as avoiding contact with individuals who have active infections or wearing a face mask in crowded areas.

6. Follow-up care: Regular follow-up appointments with your healthcare team are essential to monitor your immune status and address any concerns or complications that may arise during chemotherapy. They can also guide you with personalized recommendations to support your immune system.


Chemotherapy is a powerful treatment that can have both positive and negative effects on the immune system. While it is inevitable that chemotherapy may temporarily weaken the immune system, there are steps individuals can take to support and strengthen their immune system during treatment. By communicating with their healthcare team, practicing good hygiene, making healthy lifestyle choices, receiving appropriate vaccinations, and following neutropenic precautions, cancer patients can take proactive measures to minimize the risk of infections and support their overall well-being during chemotherapy.

Got Questions? Let Us Help!

Since 1985, Chemique Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has been a recognized leader in the infusion pharmacy industry based in Wittier, California. Our therapies include compounded solutions for parenteral antibiotics, chemotherapy, pain medications, total Parenteral Nutrition (T.P.N), and other drugs. Some of our services include antibiotic therapies, hydration therapies, hormone replacement therapies, continuous or cyclical Total Parental Nutritional IV support, and more. At Chemique Pharmaceuticals, Inc. we are dedicated to having you feel your best. Call us today for more information!