Background: The neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) has been proposed as an indicator of systemic inflammatory response. Previous findings from small-scale studies revealed conflicting results about its independent prognostic significance with regard to different clinical end points in pancreatic cancer (PC) patients. Therefore, the aim of our study was the external validation of the prognostic significance of NLR in a large cohort of PC patients.
Methods: Data from 371 consecutive PC patients, treated between 2004 and 2010 at a single centre, were evaluated retrospectively. The whole cohort was stratified into two groups according to the treatment modality. Group 1 comprised 261 patients with inoperable PC at diagnosis and group 2 comprised 110 patients with surgically resected PC. Cancer-specific survival (CSS) was assessed using the Kaplan-Meier method. To evaluate the independent prognostic significance of the NLR, the modified Glasgow prognostic score (mGPS) and the platelet-lymphocyte ratio univariate and multivariate Cox regression models were applied.
Results: Multivariate analysis identified increased NLR as an independent prognostic factor for inoperable PC patients (hazard ratio (HR)=2.53, confidence interval (CI)=1.64-3.91, P<0.001) and surgically resected PC patients (HR=1.61, CI=1.02-2.53, P=0.039). In inoperable PC patients, the mGPS was associated with poor CSS only in univariate analysis (HR=1.44, CI=1.04-1.98).
Conclusion: Risk prediction for cancer-related end points using NLR does add independent prognostic information to other well-established prognostic factors in patients with PC, regardless of the undergoing therapeutic modality. Thus, the NLR should be considered for future individual risk assessment in patients with PC.