Immunotherapy Cost in India

Immunotherapy can be availed with other treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc.
Bone Cancer

To combat illness and infection, the immune system is made up of immune cells, antibodies (proteins), and organs. The immune system, a highly developed system in the body, fights cancer. This process involves proteins, organs, and cells.

Usually, cancer suppresses the immune system’s natural defences, allowing cancer cells to proliferate and spread more widely.

Immunotherapy is one type of cancer treatment available. The body uses compounds made in a lab or by the body itself to strengthen the immune system and aid in the body’s search for and elimination of cancer cells.

  • Numerous cancer types can be treated with immunotherapy. It can be taken either on its own or in combination with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
  • The cost of immunotherapy in India is comparatively low when compared to other Western nations like the USA
  • High-quality, reasonably priced healthcare is widely available throughout the country.
  • Those visiting India for immunotherapy can choose from the best facilities, which offer affordable healthcare packages, high-quality medical equipment, and the guarantee of top-notch medical practitioners.
  • Immunotherapy has the ability to:
  • Train the immune system to identify and combat particular cancer cells.
  • Boost immune function to help combat cancer.
  • Increase the body’s nutritional intake to strengthen the immune system’s response.
  • Checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines, adjuvants, tumour-infecting viruses, adoptive cell transfer, targeted antibodies, and cancer vaccines are a few of the forms that cancer immunotherapy can take.
  • Examples of cancer immunotherapy include checkpoint inhibitors, cytokines, adjuvants, tumour-infecting viruses, adoptive cell transfer, targeted antibodies, and cancer vaccines.
  • Immunotherapies are a category of biotherapy that employs components from living things to treat illness. They are also referred to as biological therapy or biological response modifier (BRM) therapy.
  • A lot of immunotherapy treatments for cancer prevention, management, and treatment can be combined with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or targeted therapies to increase their efficacy. 
  • Some immunotherapy treatments are called gene therapies because they use genetic engineering to increase immune cells’ capacity to fight cancer.

Functions of the Immune System

The immune system monitors every substance that the body typically produces. Any novel chemical that the immune system is unable to recognize triggers an alarm, which then triggers an assault by the immune system.

When the immune system recognizes something as “foreign,” it attacks it. The immune response has the power to eliminate anything harbouring a foreign material, including bacteria or cancer cells.

On the other hand, the immune system finds it more difficult to recognize cancer cells. This is because normal, healthy cells become altered or transformed and start to proliferate uncontrollably, which is how cancer starts. Since cancer cells start as normal cells, the immune system does not always perceive them as alien entities.

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Things to Anticipate Following Immunotherapy

Unlike chemotherapy, immunotherapy does not always lead to tumour shrinkage. Tumours can enlarge or grow in size even in healthy individuals when immune cells combat cancer.

The phrase for this phenomenon is pseudo-progression. The phrase alludes to the possibility that patients may still benefit even though a tumour only seems to be getting worse.

One will need to see the doctor often to monitor the effectiveness of this therapy. Regular procedures may include physical examinations, blood tests, and imaging scans.

The Cost of Immunotherapy in India

India’s immunotherapy hospitals offer top-notch care at a significantly lower cost than any other developed nation. India’s cancer treatment program, which includes immunotherapy, has a long history of success and is constantly getting better.

Like any other complicated cancer treatment, immunotherapy calls for a dedicated cancer department.

The cost range for immunotherapy sessions in India is between ₹1,50,000 ($1,830) and ₹4,55,000 ($5,550).

India’s immunotherapy hospitals provide a variety of cancer and other disease treatments, including autoimmune diseases. It encourages the body’s defences to target cancerous or other ill cells. 

Combining immunotherapy with other medical procedures like radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery is possible.

The number of sessions required will depend on how severe the cancer is. Some patients may require fewer than one session, while others may require more.

For instance, the cost of CAR-T cell therapy, an immunotherapy used to treat specific blood cancers, can reach $120,000.

The cost of hospital stays, supportive care, and travel may also be incurred throughout the entire course of treatment. Certain Indian hospitals provide all-inclusive treatment packages that include all immunotherapy-related costs.

Numerous factors influence immunotherapy in India, such as the kind of treatment, the technique used, the preferred hospital and location, the credentials of the physician, and so forth.

For this reason alone, a great number of individuals travel to India for medical care for a variety of reasons, the most significant of which is that immunotherapy costs far less there than they do in other nations.

Factors Affecting the Price of Immunotherapy in India

The following are some factors that may impact the cost of immunotherapy in India based on infrastructural cost:

  • The medication expenses.
  • Length of the medical intervention.
  • Geographical position.
  • Costs associated with hospital stays.
  • Policies and subsidies from the government.
  • Packages for medical travel.
  • Infrastructure and reputation of the hospital.
  • The skills and experience of medical providers.
  • The method and quantity of diagnostic tests.
  • The selection of a therapeutic approach.
  • The standard and grade of medical care and amenities are comparable to those of the most prestigious healthcare facilities in the world, even when the cost of lodging, meals, and transportation is taken out.

Factors that may impact the cost of immunotherapy in India based on treatment and condition of the patient:

  • Cancer type: The type of cancer being treated determines how much immunotherapy will cost. For example, immunotherapy treatments for melanoma and lymphoma are typically more costly than treatments for other cancers, like breast and lung cancer. This is because immunotherapies are designed to treat particular cancer types, and the complexity of the treatment may affect how much it costs.
  • Cancer metastasis: How far the disease has spread and what body parts are affected by it are important factors in determining the cost of immunotherapy in India. Immunotherapy will be more affordable if cancer hasn’t spread to other organs in the body.
  • Type of Immunotherapy: The kind of immunotherapy that is utilized affects how much it costs. For example, compared to other immunotherapy modalities like adoptive cell transfer and dendritic cell therapy, monoclonal antibody therapy is typically more costly. The kind of medication and dosage used in immunotherapy also affect the cost.
  • Patient’s Medical History: The patient’s medical history also affects the immunotherapy cost. The cost of immunotherapy may be higher if the patient has any pre-existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. The cost of immunotherapy may also be greater if the patient has previously undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy for their cancer.
  • Treatment Plan: Lastly, the doctor’s treatment plan will determine how much immunotherapy will cost. Depending on the number of treatments required and the intricacy of the treatment plan, immunotherapy may become more expensive.
  • Drug types: There are various drug types used in immunotherapy, and these drugs have varying costs. The medications that are prescribed by the physician will determine the course of treatment and, in turn, the immunotherapy cost.
  • Treatment Administration: Injections, infusions, or oral medications are commonly used to administer immunotherapy. The cost may include the actual administration of the treatment, which can involve healthcare professionals, equipment, and monitoring.
  • Supportive medications and services: Immunotherapy may necessitate the use of additional medications to manage side effects or to supplement the treatment. The total cost may be impacted by these drugs and associated services like symptom management or nursing care.

Additional Cost

  • There are undoubtedly additional costs associated with immunotherapy in India.
  • To determine whether the patient is well enough to receive immunotherapy, the doctor will order a few tests before the procedure.
  • These raise the price of cancer treatment in India as well as the cost of immunotherapy.

The Immunotherapy Types

There are several approaches to treating cancer with immunotherapy. Here are a few instances:

Immune Checkpoints

The immune system is a strong defence mechanism, perhaps too strong at times. There are checkpoints in the body to prevent the immune system from overreacting to foreign invaders and causing harm to healthy cells.

For instance, T lymphocytes, or T-cells, are white blood cells produced by the bone marrow. T-cells fight cancer cells and shield the body from infection. Immune checkpoints attach themselves to T-cell surface proteins.

How do the immune checkpoints work?

  • Checkpoint proteins and other proteins control the flow of signals to T-cells, telling them when to turn on and off. (Consider traffic monitors that control traffic by turning on and off traffic lights.)
  • To eliminate cancerous cells, T-cells activate. They switch off to prevent harm to healthy cells.
  • Immunotherapy medications known as checkpoint inhibitors function by severing the link between checkpoint proteins and other proteins.
  • By severing the link, protein cells are prevented from instructing T-cells to cease functioning. In this manner, T-cells continue to eradicate cancerous cells.

Cancers are treated with checkpoint inhibitors

  • Checkpoint inhibitors are commonly used by medical professionals to treat a wide variety of cancers.
  • Checkpoint inhibitors are typically used by medical professionals to treat advanced cancer, cancer that has spread, cancer that is not surgically treatable, or cancer that has not responded to prior therapies.
  • Drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors may be used in conjunction with other therapies like targeted therapy or chemotherapy.
  • As more and more types of cancer are discovered that can be treated with immunotherapy, the following list is likely to expand:
  • Bladder cancer.
  • Cervical cancer.
  • Oesophageal cancer.
  • Head and neck cancer.
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma.
  • High-risk triple-negative breast cancer.
  • Kidney cancer.
  • Melanoma.
  • Mesothelioma.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer.

T-Cell inhibitor Transfer Therapy or Adoptive Cell Therapy

The ability of the immune system to eliminate cancerous cells is enhanced by this treatment. In a lab, medical professionals take immune system cells and cultivate them.

Providers reintroduce the cells into the body after they have grown so they can eradicate cancerous cells. The two primary forms of T-cell transfer therapy are CAR T-cell therapy and tumour-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy.

How do the immune checkpoints work?

  • The mechanism of action of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy is to enhance the anti-cancer capabilities of the T lymphocytes, or T-cells. 
  • White blood cells in the immune system are called T-cells.
  • The immune system tracks proteins known as antigens that are present on the surface of intruder cells to keep an eye out for invaders, like cancerous cells. 
  • T-cells are necessary for the immune system to locate and eliminate invaders.
  • Receptors are the unique proteins found in the T-cells. Receptors function similarly to the computer’s antivirus program. 
  • The T-cell security team uses its receptors to detect and stop intruders when they come into contact with antigens. 
  • Furthermore, the invaders can be killed by the T-cells. However, antigens have a defence mechanism of their own.
  • They can assume a different identity to evade the T-cells. 
  • CAR T-cell therapy makes sure that antigens masquerading as T-cells don’t trick the T-cells.

Cancers treated using CAR T-cell therapy

Certain blood cancers, such as certain forms of leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, are treated with CAR T-cell therapy. CAR T-cell therapy is being studied by doctors as a potential treatment for brain and breast cancer.

Monoclonal Antibodies

The immune system’s first line of defence against invaders includes antibodies. Proteins called antibodies fight infection by identifying invaders so the immune system can eliminate them.

Lab-made antibodies that can complement the body’s inherent defences or function as their offensive force are used in monoclonal antibody therapy for cancer.

How do the Monoclonal Antibodies work?

A portion of a malignant cell may be attacked by lab-made antibodies. They might, for instance, prevent aberrant proteins in cancerous cells. Additionally, cancerous cells can be specifically targeted by monoclonal antibodies to deliver drugs, toxins, or radioactive material that can kill cancerous cells.

(Medical professionals view monoclonal antibody therapy as a type of targeted treatment. Targeted therapy involves the targeting of specific genes, proteins, or tissues where cancerous growths are occurring.)

Cancers treated using monoclonal antibody therapy

More than 60 distinct monoclonal antibody medications that treat a variety of cancers have received FDA approval. Common cancer types that are treated with various monoclonal antibodies consist of:

  • Bladder cancer.
  • Triple-negative breast cancer is one type of breast cancer.
  • Colon cancer.
  • Lymphomas, which include b-cell, cutaneous t-cell, and non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
  • Leukaemia, encompassing hairy cell leukaemia, acute myeloid leukaemia, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
  • Several myelomas.
  • Lung cancer with non-small cells.

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Cancer Vaccines

Vaccines shield the body from some illnesses. Certain vaccinations, like the HPV vaccine, guard against an infectious disease that has been connected to penile, throat, and anal cancers. These vaccinations shield one from infections that may cause cancer in the future. Vaccines against cancer do not stop cancer. However, cancer vaccines train the body to fight in case of cancer.

How do the Cancer vaccines work?

Cancer-prevention vaccines function by assisting the immune system in recognizing antigens found in malignant cells. Cancer vaccines, like other vaccine types, use all or part of cancerous cells to help your body recognize a dangerous tumour in the body.

Scientists in medicine are assessing various approaches for producing cancer vaccines. An immune cell-based cancer vaccine that targets particular antigens on prostate cancer cells has received FDA approval.

Cancer treated using vaccines

HPV vaccinations have been approved by the FDA to prevent:

  • Vulvar, vaginal, and cervical cancers.
  • Cancer of the anus.
  • Vaginal warts.

Immune System Modulators

Substances known as immunomodulators strengthen the body’s defences against cancer. BCG, cytokines, and immunomodulatory medications are examples of immune system modulators.


Proteins called cytokines control how your immune system reacts to invaders, such as malignant cells. They aid in controlling the development and activity of blood and immune cells.

Cytokines, for instance, let the immune system know when to deal with invaders like cancerous cells. They facilitate the immune system’s cells’ ability to communicate with one another and plan coordinated attacks on particular cancerous targets. 

By delivering signals that may prolong the life of healthy cells and cause cancerous cells to die, cytokines also aid in the destruction of cancerous cells. Medical professionals use two distinct cytokines to treat cancer:

  • Interferons: Interferons aid the immune system in combating cancer and inhibit the spread of cancer cells. Interferons produced in laboratories can be used by medical professionals to treat a wide range of cancer types.
  • Interleukins: These proteins facilitate communication between immune system cells and initiate an immunological response. The interleukin IL-2, in particular, causes the body to produce more white blood cells. This includes the cancer-fighting T- and B-cells. Similar to interferons, doctors may treat cancer, particularly melanoma and kidney cancer, with lab-made interleukins.
  • Thalidomide (Thalomid®).
  • Lenalidomide (Revlimid®).
  • Pomalidomide (Pomalyst®).
  • Imiquimod (Aldara®, Zyclara®).

Lenalidomide, pomalidomide, and thalidomide release IL-2 which helps produce more white blood cells to fight cancer. They also slow tumour growth by preventing the formation of new blood vessels. 

Imidaclovir causes cells to release cytokines and prevents myeloma cells from being fed by new blood vessels. These medications are authorized for treating newly diagnosed and recurrent myeloma.

Immunotherapy for Lung Cancer

  • There has been a lot of recent good news about immunotherapy in lung cancer treatment. In recent years, checkpoint inhibitors have gained popularity as a treatment for advanced lung cancer.
  • Lung cancer, particularly non-small cell lung cancer, can be treated with immunotherapy. It is sometimes referred to as biologic therapy or biotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that involves administering medications to activate the immune system to detect and eliminate cancer cells.

Immunotherapy for Breast Cancer

  • Surgery is typically one of the available treatment options for breast cancer if it is discovered early. 
  • Treatment options for breast cancer may involve immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and/or radiation, contingent on the cancer’s molecular characteristics at the time of diagnosis and its stage.
  • Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment for breast cancer that targets, recognizes, and eliminates cancer cells using the immune system. 
  • While chemotherapy and radiation therapy are still the standard treatments for breast cancer, immunotherapy offers the potential to treat triple-negative breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer, and recurrent breast cancer.

Procedure Details

Intravenous (IV) infusions are used to administer immunotherapy to patients. Immunotherapy can be given to you on a daily, weekly, monthly, or cycled basis.

After receiving cyclic immunotherapy, you have a rest period. Your body has more time to create healthy cells during the break. The duration of treatment is dependent upon:

  • Cancer type and stage.
  • Kind of medication used in immunotherapy.
  • The body’s reaction to the medication.

Successful Rate and benefits in the Case of Immunotherapy

Any cancer treatment, including immunotherapy, has varying success rates depending on individual factors like the kind and stage of the disease. Immunotherapy is generally useful in the treatment of many different types of cancer. 

Immunotherapy is useful in treating a variety of cancers, even though some cancers are more immunogenic than others.

Immunotherapy emerges as one of the top options to achieve better outcomes when other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc., are unable to provide this high survival rate at stage IV cancer. 

Fifteen cancer types, including skin, lung, kidney, and bladder cancers, have been successfully treated with immunotherapy, and the list is growing.

In India, immunotherapy is thought to have a 20% to 40% success rate. The kind and stage of the cancer as well as the patient’s overall health determine each patient’s unique immunotherapy success rate.
Research has indicated that the immune system may remember cancer cells even after treatment has ended.

Risks or complications

Not every cancer can be treated with immunotherapy, and not every patient responding to treatment will benefit from it. The majority of immunotherapy regimens have adverse effects. 

If immunotherapy is recommended by the doctor, they will go over the specific side effects of the treatment and how they can help manage them.

  • Cancer immunotherapy boosts the immune system’s ability to identify and eliminate cancerous cells. 
  • If conventional treatments have failed or if someone has a specific type of advanced cancer, medical professionals may suggest immunotherapy. 
  • For many cancer types, immunotherapy is an effective treatment option, but not for all cancer types. 
  • Furthermore, not every cancer patient responds to immunotherapy. Having said that, scientists are developing novel applications for immunotherapy to enhance its ability to treat cancer and prolong survival.

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