Baseline neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (≥2.8) as a prognostic factor for patients with locally advanced rectal cancer undergoing neoadjuvant chemoradiation

Lijun Shen, Hui Zhang, Liping Liang, Guichao Li, Ming Fan, Yongxin Wu, Ji Zhu, Zhen Zhang
Radiation Oncology 2014 December 18, 9: 295

BACKGROUND: The neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) has been proposed as an indicator of systemic inflammatory response and may predict the clinical outcome in some cancers, such as head and neck cancer and gastric cancer. However, the value of this ratio is variable in different cancers. Studies of the relationship between NLR and both survival and response to chemoradiation have been limited with respect to locally advanced rectal cancer.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: From 2006 to 2011, 199 consecutive locally advanced rectal cancer patients who were treated with neoadjuvant chemoradiation in the Shanghai Cancer Center were enrolled and analysed retrospectively. Tumor response was evaluated by pathological findings. The baseline total white blood cell count (WBC) and the neutrophil, lymphocyte, platelet counts were recorded. The neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and the relationship with clinical outcomes such as overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) was analyzed.

RESULTS: With ROC analysis, the baseline NLR value was found to significantly predict prognosis in terms of OS well in locally advanced rectal cancer patients. A multivariate analysis identified that a cut-off value of NLR ≥ 2.8 could be used as an independent factor to indicate decreased OS (HR, 2.123; 95% CI, 1.140-3.954; P = 0.018). NLR ≥ 2.8 was also associated with worse DFS in univariate analysis (HR, 1.662; 95% CI, 1.037-2.664; P = 0.035), though it was not significant in the multivariate analysis (HR, 1.363; 95% CI, 0.840-2.214; P = 0.210). There was no observed significant correlation of mean value of NLR to the response to neoadjuvant chemoradiation. The mean NLR in the ypT0-2 N0 group was 2.68 ± 1.38, and it was 2.77 ± 1.38 in the ypT3-4/N+ group, with no statistical significance (P = 0.703). The mean NLR in the TRG 0-1 group was 2.68 ± 1.42, and it was 2.82 ± 1.33 in the TRG 2-3 group with no statistical significance (P = 0.873).

CONCLUSIONS: An elevated baseline NLR is a valuable and easily available prognostic factor for OS in addition to tumor response after neoadjuvant therapy. Baseline NLR could be a useful candidate factor for stratifying patients and making treatment decisions in locally advanced rectal cancer.

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