The hope is that such early treatment, when the patient is still quite healthy, will train their immune system to keep fighting off the cancer long-term, Forde said.
Further trials will test the methods on patients with bowel and ovarian cancer.
The immune therapy treatments worked for only about half of the patients in the study.
Chief of Medical Oncology, Dr. Roy Herbst from the Yale Cancer Center said that, "I've been treating lung cancer for 25 years now, and I've never seen such a big paradigm shift as we're seeing with immunotherapy".
Chemotherapy may no longer be the standard cancer treatment after the publication of a series of studies by the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago.
But trials over the last five years have repeatedly shown more uses for immune therapy in lung cancer, and the new research confirms that almost all lung cancer patients will now receive immune therapy, said Patrick Forde, the first author on one of the studies and a lung cancer specialist at Johns Hopkins Medical.
Two thirds were given a combination of both immunotherapy drugs and chemotherapy while the remaining patients were given chemotherapy and a placebo. Researchers at New York University found adding Keytruda to chemotherapy doubled overall survival of patients with non-small cell lung cancer; the most common type of the disease.
In 45 per cent of cases, it not only started to shrink the tumour but turned it into an "auto-vaccine", activating T cells, which circulated the body to attack cancer cells.
But the benefits for Opdivo and Yervoy lasted less than two months on average. "This notion of 'cancer interception" has the potential to stop cancer in its tracks'.
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