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Mol Clin Oncol. 2017 Sep;7(3):498-506. doi: 10.3892/mco.2017.1342. Epub 2017 Jul 24.

Value of neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio for predicting lung cancer prognosis: A meta-analysis of 7,219 patients.

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Cancer Center, The First Hospital of Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin 130021, P.R. China.


Current evidence suggests that the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) may be a biomarker for poor prognosis in lung cancer, although this association remains controversial. Therefore, a meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the association between NLR and lung cancer outcome. A systematic literature search was performed through the PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Library databases (until July 30, 2016), to identify studies evaluating the association between NLR and overall survival (OS) and/or progression-free survival (PFS) among patients with lung cancer. Based on the results of this search, data from 18 studies involving 7,219 patients with lung cancer were evaluated. The pooled hazard ratio (HR) suggested that elevated pretreatment NLR predicted poor OS [HR=1.46, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.30-1.64] and poor PFS (HR=1.42, 95% CI: 1.15-1.75) among patients with lung cancer. Subgroup analysis revealed that the prognostic value of NLR for predicting poor OS increased among patients who underwent surgery (HR=1.50, 95% CI: 1.21-1.84) or patients with early-stage disease (HR=1.64, 95% CI: 1.37-1.97). An NLR cut-off value of ≥4 significantly predicted poor OS (HR=1.56, 95% CI: 1.31-1.85) and PFS (HR=1.54, 95% CI: 1.13-1.82), particularly in the cases of small-cell lung cancer. Thus, the results of the present meta-analysis suggested that an elevated pretreatment NLR (e.g., ≥4) may be considered as a biomarker for poor prognosis in patients with lung cancer.


inflammation; lung cancer; meta-analysis; neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio; prognosis

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