Pre-treatment neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio may be a useful tool in predicting survival in early triple negative breast cancer patients

BMC Cancer. 2015 Mar 28;15:195. doi: 10.1186/s12885-015-1204-2.


Background: There is a growing body of evidence that immune response plays a large role in cancer outcome. The neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR) has been used as a simple parameter of systemic inflammation in several tumors. The purpose was to investigate the association between pre-treatment NLR, disease-free survival and overall survival in patients with early triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).

Methods: We reviewed the records of patients with stage I-III TNBC at our Institution from 2006 to 2012. The association between pre-treatment NLR and survival was analyzed. The difference among variables was calculated by chi-square test. DFS and OS were estimated using Kaplan-Meier method. Cox analysis was performed to analyze clinical parameters for their prognostic relevance.

Results: A total of 90 patients were eligible. There was no significant correlation among pre-treatment NLR and various clinical pathological factors. Patients with NLR higher than 3 showed significantly lower DFS (p = 0.002) and OS (p = 0.009) than patients with NLR equal or lower than 3. The Cox proportional multivariate hazard model revealed that higher pre-treatment NLR was independently correlated with poor DFS and OS, with hazard ratio 5.15 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.11-23.88, p = 0.03) and 6.16 (95% CI 1.54-24.66, p = 0.01) respectively.

Conclusion: Our study suggests that pre-treatment NLR may be associated with DFS and OS patients with early TNBC. Further validation and a feasibility study are required before it can be considered for clinical use.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / therapy
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Lymphocyte Count
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • ROC Curve
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / therapy