Background: The neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio (NLR) has been reportedly associated with prognosis in cancer patients by influencing both cancer progression and chemosensitivity. However, the correlation between NLR and the outcome of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in breast cancer patients remains unclear.
Methods: NLR was evaluated in 177 patients with breast cancer treated with NAC with 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide, followed by weekly paclitaxel and subsequent curative surgery. The correlation between NLR and prognosis, including the efficacy of NAC, was evaluated retrospectively.
Results: NLR ranged from 0.5 to 10.6. Fifty-eight patients with low NLR (<3.0) had a higher pathological complete response (pCR) rate (p < 0.001) and were more frequently diagnosed with ER-negative/progesterone receptor (PR)-negative/HER2-negative (triple-negative) breast cancer (TNBC; p < 0.001) compared with patients with high NLR (≥3.0). Among TNBC patients who achieved pCR, disease-free survival (p = 0.006) and overall survival (p < 0.001) were significantly longer in patients with low NLR than in those with high NLR. Low NLR was associated with a significantly favorable prognosis in TNBC patients who achieved pCR, according to univariate analysis (p = 0.044, hazard ratio = 0.06).
Conclusions: Low NLR may indicate high efficacy and favorable outcome after NAC in patients with TNBC.