Pancreatic cancer has poor survival despite modern-day advances in its management. At present, there are no available biomarkers that can predict chemotherapy response or help inform prognosis. In more recent years, there has been increased interest in potential inflammatory biomarkers, with studies revealing a worse prognosis of patients with a higher neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio in a range of tumour types. Our aim was to assess the role of three inflammatory biomarkers in peripheral blood in predicting chemotherapy response in patients with earlier disease treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy and as a prognostic marker in all patients that underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer. Using retrospective records, we discovered that patients with a higher neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (>5) at the time of diagnosis had worse median overall survival than those with ratios ≤5 at 13 and 32.4 months (p = 0.001, HR 2.43), respectively. We were able to appreciate a correlation between a higher platelet-to-lymphocyte ratio and increased residual tumour in the histopathological specimen in patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy; however, the association was weak (p = 0.03, coefficient 0.21). Due to the dynamic relationship between the immune system and pancreatic cancer, it is unsurprising that immune markers may be useful as potential biomarkers; however, larger prospective studies are needed to validate these findings.
Keywords: biomarkers; immune; inflammatory; pancreatic cancer; predictive; prognostic.