High neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio predicts worse overall survival in patients with advanced/metastatic urothelial bladder cancer

To study the role of the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio in predicting survival outcomes for patients with advanced bladder cancer.

We retrospectively reviewed 150 patients diagnosed with advanced or metastatic bladder cancer between January 2004 and June 2014. The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio was computed on diagnosis and after the first cycle of chemotherapy. A neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio cut-off of 3.0 was determined, with a concordance index of 0.89. Kaplan-Meier curves, log-rank tests, Cox proportional hazards and logistic regression models were used to predict the association of the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio with survival outcomes.

Just five patients were alive at the end of the study; the rest died from metastatic bladder cancer. On multivariate analysis, higher Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group status, lymphadenopathy, visceral metastases and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio ≥3.0 were associated with poorer overall survival (hazard ratio 1.67, P = 0.03; hazard ratio 1.97, P = <0.01; hazard ratio 2.02, P = <0.01; hazard ratio 5.06, P = <0.01), whereas chemotherapy conferred better overall survival (hazard ratio 0.546, P = 0.01). Furthermore, the role of chemotherapy prolonged survival longer in patients with a neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio <3.0 (median overall survival 13.0 vs 22.0 months, hazard ratio 0.273, P = 0.008) compared with a neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio ≥3.0 (median overall survival 4.0 vs 7.0 months, hazard ratio 0.452, P = 0.020). More importantly, when dichotomized to the four different pre- and post-chemotherapy groups, patients with a pre- and post-chemotherapy neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio <3.0 had the best additional median overall survival of 19.0 months compared with patients with a pre- and post-chemotherapy neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio ≥3.0 (3.0 months).

Elevated neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio is independently associated with poorer chemotherapeutic response and overall survival in patients with advanced or metastatic bladder cancer. The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio can be an inexpensive novel factor in prognosticating disease progression and providing better patient counseling.

International journal of urology : official journal of the Japanese Urological Association. 2017 Nov 01 [Epub ahead of print]

Yu Guang Tan, Ernest Wen Cong Eu, Hong Hong Huang, Weber Kam On Lau

Department of Urology, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore.