Immunotherapy for lung cancer in Germany

Immunotherapy for lung cancer in Germany

| from Booking Health GmbH | Diagnosis & treatment

Cancer immunotherapy was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2018, which facilitated the technique to quickly enter into the expanded treatment protocols, significantly increasing the effectiveness of the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma. In Germany, immunotherapy treatment for lung cancer...

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Cancer immunotherapy was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2018, which facilitated the technique to quickly enter into the expanded treatment protocols, significantly increasing the effectiveness of the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma. In Germany, immunotherapy treatment for lung cancer can be successfully carried out at different stages of the disease, allowing the patient's immune system to attack a tumor and its metastases. Immunotherapy for metastatic lung cancer is often the only treatment option, and, in the early stages of cancer, doctors combine it with surgery and chemotherapy. German specialists select drugs individually, considering the genetic and molecular characteristics of the tumor in a particular patient.


  1. Monoclonal antibodies
  2. Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  3. Dendritic cell-based vaccines
  4. Adoptive T cell transfer
  5. Hospitals and cost of treatment
  6. Organization of immunotherapy for lung cancer in Germany

Monoclonal antibodies


Monoclonal antibodies are protein molecules that exclusively bind to specific tumor targets. Specific antigens on the surface of malignant cells, specific receptors, and molecules of tumor blood vessels act as targets. 

Monoclonal antibodies are synthesized in the laboratory, and one or more specific preparations have been developed for each target. For lung cancer treatment, doctors use drugs that suppress vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These do not allow new arteries to form, and a malignant neoplasm dies from a lack of oxygen and nutrients. This type of monoclonal antibody received FDA approval back in 2006. So far, research is ongoing to find other unique targets for monoclonal antibodies for lung cancer.

In fact, a subset of immune checkpoint inhibitors (see below) are also monoclonal antibodies. Due to their special mechanisms of action, they are isolated in a separate group.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors


The human immune system can destroy several million cancer cells daily. Malignant tumors develop and progress due to the ability to hide or pretend to be normal. Immune checkpoint inhibitors restore anti-cancer immunity by influencing the mechanisms of such masking.

This is the most expansive and most well-studied group of drugs for non-small cell and squamous cell lung cancer, which are actively used in clinics in Germany. This includes the following three types of medications:

  1. PD-1 inhibitors affect the corresponding protein in T cells (killer cells of the immune system). Normally, PD-1 directs T cells to targets that should not be attacked. Doctors make a neoplasm visible to the immune system by blocking PD-1 on tumor cells;
  2. PD-L1 inhibitors enhance the process described above. Before starting treatment, doctors conduct tests to check the content of PD-L1 in cancer cells;
  3. CTLA-4 inhibitors are another option. CTLA-4 is a protein in T cells that regulates their activity. The lower the CTLA-4 levels, the more effective the T cells are at destroying the tumor. CTLA-4 inhibitors can be used together with PD-1 inhibitors and chemotherapy, but not as a stand-alone treatment method.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors

Immune checkpoint inhibitors suppress the growth of metastases and significantly increase the life expectancy of people with stage 4 and 3 lung cancer. 

Dendritic cell-based vaccines


Non-small cell lung cancer can be treated with dendritic cells after a partial or complete surgical tumor removal (adjuvant therapy). Vaccination is equally effective in patients with glandular and squamous cell carcinoma, and clinical studies have proved an increase in the 5-year survival of such patients by 25%.

In most cases, the lung tumor is removed during surgery, and blood monocytes serve as the material for creating an individual vaccine. The finished product is injected subcutaneously. This is well tolerated and does not cause any side effects. A course of 4 injections at an interval of several weeks is required for the formation of a stable antitumor immune response.

In addition to the effect on residual tumors and metastases, vaccination forms immunological memory and prevents the recurrence of oncology in the future.

Another promising application of dendritic cells for advanced lung cancer is their combination with the Newcastle disease virus and γδ T cell-based therapy. This treatment has proved its high success rates in patients with stage 3 and 4 cancer in clinical studies.


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Adoptive T cell transfer


Adoptive lung cancer immunotherapy, or CAR T-cell therapy, is the most high-tech type of treatment and is carried out only in a few large university hospitals in Germany.

Doctors isolate T cells from the patient's blood and modify their genetic makeup. This is a complex procedure that gives T cells the ability to recognize a lung tumor as a prime target for an attack. CAR T-cell therapy overcomes the mechanisms of tumor masking and significantly increases the activity of anti-cancer immunity. At the same time, the size of metastases and the primary tumor decreases, cancer intoxication decreases, and respiratory function improves.


"After completing CAR T-cell therapy, new T lymphocytes retain their ability to attack a lung tumor for a long time."


A simpler variant of adoptive cell therapy is to treat T cells with substances similar in composition to lung tumor antigens. During such contact, T cells "remember" antigens in order to find them in the patient's body in the future and destroy the tumor. Such a treatment option allows physicians to improve a person's health status quickly, and anti-cancer immunity lasts for several months.


Hospitals and cost of treatment


Lung cancer treatment in Germany is provided by academic and university hospitals. Top-class medical facilities offer their patients minimally invasive surgery, sparing types of radiation therapy, and innovative medicines, including modern immunotherapy.

During the first visit to a hospital, doctors study the results of the patient's diagnostic tests, ask questions about previous treatment, and conduct a clinical examination. They can also carry out additional tests or perform CT/MRI scans if required. All these examinations are followed by a tumor board aimed at developing a customized treatment plan for a patient. If you want to come specifically for immunotherapy, you can first consult with a doctor from the German clinic remotely.

The prices for treatment are determined individually and depend on the clinic, the patient's age, and diagnosis. The average cost of comprehensive diagnostics, including a lung biopsy with a histological examination and the development of a treatment regimen, is about 16,400 €.

Organization of immunotherapy for lung cancer in Germany


You are welcome to use the Booking Health service to undergo your immunotherapy or comprehensive lung cancer treatment in Germany. Booking Health is an international medical tourism provider that has been organizing the treatment of people with cancer from 75 countries in leading German hospitals for over 12 years. The compliance of the quality of the company's work with high international standards is confirmed by the prestigious ISO 9001:2015 certificate.

Booking Health will help you to: 

  • select a clinic and a doctor specializing in immunotherapy for lung cancer;
  • conduct a preliminary remote consultation with a doctor from a German hospital;
  • learn a preliminary treatment regimen; 
  • make an appointment on the preferred date without a long waiting period;
  • communicate with your doctor and medical staff through an interpreter;
  • undergo your treatment at a favorable cost and without overpricing for foreign patients (saving up to 50%);
  • buy medicines and forward them to your native country to continue your outpatient treatment;
  • maintain contact with the hospital after the completion of your treatment;
  • control hospital invoices and return unused deposit funds to your bank account;
  • obtain medical insurance;
  • organize additional diagnostic examinations, treatment, or rehabilitation;
  • book the most suitable airline tickets, transfers, and apartments, and obtain a visa and an invitation for treatment, if required. 

Doctors and coordinators of the Booking Health company will accompany you at all stages of your cancer treatment. Do not hesitate to contact them for any medical or organizational issues.


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The article was edited by medical experts, board certified doctors Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova and Dr. Vadim Zhiliuk. For the treatment of the conditions referred to in the article, you must consult a doctor; the information in the article is not intended for self-medication!



Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer

American Cancer Society

Cancer Research Institute



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