Background: Inflammatory markers are strong prognostic factors for survival in a variety of cancers. This study aimed to investigate the relationships between known inflammatory markers and their ability to predict overall survival (OS) in patients receiving docetaxel therapy.
Methods: Sixty-eight patients with advanced cancer were enrolled in a clinical trial of single agent docetaxel from 2000 to 2002. Inflammation was measured using baseline cytokine concentrations, acute phase reactant proteins and white blood cell counts. The neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and Glasgow Prognostic Score (GPS) were calculated. Associations between inflammatory markers and their predictive value for OS were tested.
Results: The majority of patients had elevated inflammatory markers (50-70%). Strong inter-relationships were observed between the different inflammatory indices. Only NLR and GPS were independently predictive of OS. A combined NLR and GPS score demonstrated 11 month differences in overall OS between patients with normal and elevated inflammatory status. Normalisation of NLR after three doses of chemotherapy was associated with significant improvement in survival.
Conclusion: This study found that NLR predicts the clinical outcomes for patients with advanced cancer treated with docetaxel. The clinical utilisation of NLR should be validated in a larger patient population to confirm its utility.