The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio: a narrative review

Ecancermedicalscience. 2016 Dec 12:10:702. doi: 10.3332/ecancer.2016.702. eCollection 2016.


Cellular-mediated inflammatory response, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and monocytes are increasingly being recognised as having an important role in tumorigenesis and carcinogenesis. In this context, studies have suggested that the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) can be used as an independent prognostic factor in a variety of cancers. Particularly in breast cancer, several studies have shown that a high NLR is associated with shorter survival. Because the NLR can be easily determined from the full blood count, it could potentially provide a simple and inexpensive test cancer prognosis. This review addresses the possibilities and limitations of using the NLR as a clinical tool for risk stratification helpful for individual treatment of breast cancer patients. The potential underlying phenomena and some perspectives are discussed.

Keywords: breast cancer; inflammation; neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio; prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review