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BACKGROUND: Adequate organ function and good performance status (PS) are common eligibility criteria for phase I trials. As inflammation is pathogenic and prognostic in cancer we investigated the prognostic performance of inflammation-based indices including the neutrophil (NLR) and platelet to lymphocyte ratio (PLR). METHODS: We studied inflammatory scores in 118 unselected referrals. NLR normalization was recalculated at disease reassessment. Each variable was assessed for progression-free (PFS) and overall survival (OS) on uni- and multivariate analyses and tested for 90 days survival (90DS) prediction using receiving operator curves (ROC). RESULTS: We included 118 patients with median OS 4.4 months, 23% PS>1. LDH≥450 and NLR≥5 were multivariate predictors of OS (p<0.001). NLR normalization predicted for longer OS (p<0.001) and PFS (p<0.05). PS and NLR ranked as most accurate predictors of both 90DS with area under ROC values of 0.66 and 0.64, and OS with c-score of 0.69 and 0.60. The combination of NLR+PS increased prognostic accuracy to 0.72. The NLR was externally validated in a cohort of 126 subjects. CONCLUSIONS: We identified the NLR as a validated and objective index to improve patient selection for experimental therapies, with its normalization following treatment predicting for a survival benefit of 7 months. Prospective validation of the NLR is warranted.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Blood Platelets, Clinical Trials as Topic, Female, Humans, Inflammation, Leukocyte Count, Lymphocytes, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Metastasis, Neoplasm Staging, Neoplasms, Neutrophils, Patient Selection, Platelet Count, Prognosis, Reproducibility of Results, Retrospective Studies, Treatment Outcome, Tumor Burden