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Oncotarget. 2017 Feb 27;8(35):59757-59765. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.15760. eCollection 2017 Aug 29.

Association of immunologic markers from complete blood counts with the response to preoperative chemoradiotherapy and prognosis in locally advanced rectal cancer.

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Department of Colon and Rectal Surgery, University of Ulsan College of Medicine and Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Ulsan College of Medicine and Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.


We investigated retrospectively whether immunologic markers from a complete blood count (CBC) are associated with the responsiveness to preoperative chemoradiotherapy (PCRT) and oncologic outcomes in 984 patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) who also underwent radical surgery from 2005 to 2013. CBC parameters including the neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio (NLR), lymphocyte to monocyte ratio (LMR), and platelet to lymphocyte ratio (PLR) were recorded. Pathologic responses to PCRT were evaluated in the resected specimens using the tumor regression grade system. The cut-off values of the immunologic markers were calculated to analyze their association with recurrence-free survival (RFS). One hundred ninety-five patients achieved total regression of their primary tumor. By receiver operating characteristic analysis, NLR, PLR, and LMR could not distinguish total regression from residual disease after PCRT. The NLR, LMR and PLR cut-off values were 1.7, 6.8 and 92.88, respectively. By univariate analysis, low NLR (≤1.7), high LMR (>6.8) and high PLR (>92.88) were indicators of a favorable RFS outcome. By multivariate analysis, high PLR was associated with an improved RFS (HR, 0.649; 95% CI, 0.473-0.89; P=0.007). High NLR (>1.7) was an independent negative prognostic factor for RFS in stage II (HR, 1.868; 95% CI, 1.08-3.109; P=0.025) and high PLR was a positive prognostic factor in stage III (HR, 0.675; 95% CI, 0.421-0.957; P=0.03). Immunologic markers derived from CBCs are independently associated with the RFS outcome in LARC patients treated with PCRT followed by radical resection. However, these markers are not predictive of total primary tumor regression after PCRT.


neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio; oncologic outcome; preoperative chemoradiotherapy; rectal cancer; tumor response

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of interest The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

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