Low Pretreatment Neutrophil-to-Lymphocyte Ratio Predicts for Good Outcomes in Patients Receiving Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Before Radical Cystectomy for Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer

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Low pretreatment neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio might indicate good outcomes after neoadjuvant chemotherapy in muscle invasive bladder cancer. These findings, combined with established risk factors and novel genetic and molecular predictors, should result in an easily available and inexpensive method to improve risk stratification and decision-making regarding neoadjuvant chemotherapy for muscle invasive bladder cancer.


The pretreatment neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) has been associated with cancer prognosis, influencing progression and chemosensitivity. We aimed to define the role of the NLR in predicting the outcomes to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer (MIBC).

Patients and Methods:

The data from patients treated with NAC and radical cystectomy for MIBC from 2007 to 2015 at a tertiary care center were reviewed. The clinicopathologic pretreatment, including the NLR, and post-treatment predictors were documented. The NLR was evaluated as a continuous variable on uni- and multivariate analysis and dichotomized in Kaplan-Meier curves. The relationships with outcomes (progression-free survival [PFS], cancer-specific survival [CSS], and overall survival [OS]) were analyzed using Cox regression analysis and log-rank tests. The pathologic response (PR) included any downstaging from the baseline clinical stage to the final pathologic stage.


Of 205 patients with MIBC, 75 underwent NAC (median follow-up, 31 months) with a 5-year PFS, CSS, and OS rate of 56%, 60%, and 52%, respectively, and a PR of 38.6%. On multivariate analysis, the PR, PFS, CSS, and OS were predicted by the NLR (hazard ratio > 0.8, 1.25, 1.27, and 1.12, respectively; P < .05 for all). The NLR with age and clinical stage predicted the PR. A NLR threshold of 2.26 better predicted CSS (P < .05) and OS (P = .055). The limitations included the retrospective design and modest number of cases.


We have provided initial evidence that a low NLR helps understand the value of the underlying immune system in predicting a good outcome to NAC. The NLR is a simple and accessible biomarker that is easy to implement in clinical practice. In addition to established prognosticators and newer genomic predictors, the NLR could improve therapeutic algorithms and help in decision-making regarding the need for NAC, which is currently underused, in MIBC patients.

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