Systemic inflammatory response is a predictor of outcome in patients undergoing preoperative chemoradiation for locally advanced rectal cancer

Colorectal Dis. 2012 Oct;14(10):e701-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2012.03147.x.


Aim: Current management of locally advanced rectal cancer includes neoadjuvant chemoradiation in selected patients to increase the chance of a tumour-free circumferential resection margin. There is uncertainty over the role of and selection criteria for additional systemic therapy in this group of patients. In this retrospective study we investigate the association between markers of systemic inflammatory response (SIR) and outcome from treatment.

Method: One hundred and fifteen patients with locally advanced rectal cancer undergoing preoperative chemoradiation had recording of full blood count parameters including neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio (NLR) and platelet/lymphocyte ratios (PLR). Postoperative surgical margins (R status) and pathological stage were documented. Outcome measures were overall survival (OS), time to local recurrence (TTLR) and disease-free survival (DFS). Cox regression analysis was performed to identify predictors of outcome.

Results: Only NLR and R status were significant predictors for all outcome measures on univariate and multivariate analysis. Elevated NLR (≥5) was associated with decreased OS, [hazard ratio (HR) and 95% CI, 7.0 (2.6-19.2)], decreased TTLR [HR 3.8 (1.3-11.2)] and shorter DFS [HR 4.1 (1.7-9.8)]. Median survival for patients with an elevated NLR was 18.8 months compared with 54.4 months without an elevated NLR (P<0.001).

Conclusion: In addition to postoperative R-status, an elevated NLR is also a valuable prognostic marker in patients undergoing chemoradiation for locally advanced rectal carcinoma. It is associated with worse OS, TTLR and DFS. An elevated NLR may be a useful additional tool in guiding the decision-making process for adjuvant or neoadjuvant therapies.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood
  • Adenocarcinoma / complications
  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Cell Count
  • Chemoradiotherapy, Adjuvant*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Rectal Neoplasms / blood
  • Rectal Neoplasms / complications
  • Rectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Rectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Rectum / pathology
  • Rectum / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / blood
  • Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome / etiology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Biomarkers