Aims: The neutrophil–lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and the absolute lymphocyte count (ALC) have been proposed as prognostic markers in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The objective of this study was to examine the association of NLR/ALC before and after curative-intent radiotherapy for NSCLC on disease recurrence and overall survival.
Materials and methods: A retrospective study of consecutive patients who underwent curative-intent radiotherapy for NSCLC across nine sites in the UK from 1 October 2014 to 1 October 2016. A multivariate analysis was carried out to assess the ability of pre-treatment NLR/ALC, post-treatment NLR/ALC and change in NLR/ALC, adjusted for confounding factors using the Cox proportional hazards model, to predict disease recurrence and overall survival within 2 years of treatment.
Results: In total, 425 patients were identified with complete blood parameter values. None of the NLR/ALC parameters were independent predictors of disease recurrence. Higher pre-NLR, post-NLR and change in NLR plus lower post-ALC were all independent predictors of worse survival. Receiver operator curve analysis found a pre-NLR > 2.5 (odds ratio 1.71, 95% confidence interval 1.06–2.79, P < 0.05), a post-NLR > 5.5 (odds ratio 2.36, 95% confidence interval 1.49–3.76, P < 0.001), a change in NLR >3.6 (odds ratio 2.41, 95% confidence interval 1.5–3.91, P < 0.001) and a post-ALC < 0.8 (odds ratio 2.86, 95% confidence interval 1.76–4.69, P < 0.001) optimally predicted poor overall survival on both univariate and multivariate analysis when adjusted for confounding factors. Median overall survival for the high-versus low-risk groups were: pre-NLR 770 versus 1009 days (P = 0.34), post-NLR 596 versus 1287 days (P ≤ 0.001), change in NLR 553 versus 1214 days (P ≤ 0.001) and post-ALC 594 versus 1287 days (P ≤ 0.001).
Conclusion: NLR and ALC, surrogate markers for systemic inflammation, have prognostic value in NSCLC patients treated with curative-intent radiotherapy. These simple and readily available parameters may have a future role in risk stratification post-treatment to inform the intensity of surveillance protocols.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Royal College of Radiologists
- Curative-intent radiotherapy
- lung cancer
- lymphocyte count
- neutrophil–lymphocyte ratio
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging